14 March 2014
Sarah Mac Donald in Dublin
Criticism for Irish priests group who described abuse as a mistake
The Archbishop of Dublin has criticised the Association of Catholic Priests’ (ACP) use of the word “mistake” to describe incidents of child sexual abuse by priests.
Speaking to The Tablet, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said it was “a very insensitive term”.
Survivors of clerical abuse have also expressed anger at the comment made by Fr Tony Flannery, a founding member of the ACP. The row concerns a report on the ACP website, which has since been removed, about a meeting between Fr Flannery another ACP member, Fr Sean McDonagh, and representatives of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland (NBSCCCI).
Fr Flannery, who revealed that he had been abused as a child by a man, related that the two priests had questioned the justice of excluding many older priests from ministry “because of a mistake or mistakes they made in their earlier life” where there was “no pattern of re-offending”. He said they had questioned the NBSCCCI about the witness this gives from a Church whose core teaching is mercy and forgiveness.
Marie Collins, who was abused as a child and campaigns on behalf of fellow survivors, said she was shocked that Irish priests in 2014 feel it is right to return a man who has abused a child in the past to a position of trust.
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