An Irish-based support group for the children of Catholic priests has been assured by the bishops that money will be provided to fund any counselling its clients require.
Coping International was set up and is being run by an Irish man whose late father was a priest.
At their autumn general meeting last October the Irish bishops’ conference agreed to pay for therapy through the church-sponsored “Towards Healing” counselling service.
The decision is believed to be “the first of its kind in the Church”, according to the founder of Coping International, who for now wishes to remain anonymous.
Speaking to The Tablet he said: “The Irish Catholic bishops have been providing counselling services ‘ad hoc’ through Towards Healing since 2011 to children of Irish catholic priests and to their mothers since 2013.”
He quoted from a letter sent by the bishops to his organisation in 2014 in which they said they recognised the importance of “adequate care being provided for children born to priests [...] and are anxious to ensure that appropriate support is being offered to all children”.
Coping International says it maintains contact with more than 30 children of priests and also some priests, and works “primarily (at this point) with Irish clientele” but includes the Philippines, Africa and South America, where Irish priests work as missionary priests.