28 July 2021
Fr. Sean re scandal of sexual abuse


Nobody can deny that the current turmoil in the Church arising from the scandal of sexual abuse of children by priests and its aftermath has been traumatic for all Catholics. 
I think there is a need, even at this time, to look forward with hope and determination to eradicate the cancer that has been such a cloud in our lives.  At some stage we have to copper-fasten the protection policy of the Church in regard to children.  The guidelines for this policy are now well established, but their full implementation in every parish will take some time.  Almost all parishes are making a huge effort to fully enforce the guidelines, but much work remains to be done.

On the other side of the problem, I do not believe that many have fully grasped the depth of anger that many regular practising Catholics feel both about the abuse itself and the apparent cover up of the scandal.  The Church in Ireland must recognise this anger, and help people to deal with it.  Recognition of victims and their suffering is a must as a first step.  Respect for them and affording them space as children of God, and, in most cases, members of the family of God’s people is a second step.  Reparation which will follow from recognition and respect is an obvious third step. 
It is important to accept that reparation is not always achieved through monetary compensation: respect and acceptance is equally important.  In many cases the healing will take a long time, but a start must be made.  At the moment, the Church seems paralysed by the constant revelation of new cases, or indeed the regurgitation of old cases.  It is urgent for the well being of regular Catholics that the process of healing and reconciliation be seen to begin. 
Hand in hand with a positive commitment to child protection in all situations, this effort at reconciliation will bear fruit and help to diffuse the anger and frustration that is so palpable in the minds of good Catholics. 
A humble and sincere celebration of the Holy Week Liturgy can be a powerful starting point in renewing the Church as home to everybody.

Rt. Rev. Mgr. Seán Heaney PP VG