29 May 2014, The Tablet

Irish Church reaches out to victims of clerical abuse

A new initiative to reach out to survivors of clerical sexual abuse has been set up by the Irish Church.

Towards Peace is seeking to help victims to re-engage with their faith and the first of four regional launches took place in St Joseph’s parish, Cork, last Sunday with a Mass of healing and reconciliation said by the Bishop of Cork and Ross, John Buckley, and the Bishop of Killaloe, Kieran O’Reilly.

The initiative came as Pope Francis announced that he is to meet abuse victims in the Vatican. The Tablet understands that he will meet survivors from the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The Irish initiative aims to provide a “spiritual companion” to accompany victims in a journey towards healing their faith. It has been set up after requests from survivors to the Irish bishops for a pastoral response, according to Una Allen, who chairs Towards Peace.

Speaking after Sunday’s launch in Cork, Marie Collins, who serves on the Vatican’s recently established Pontifical Council for the Protection of Minors, said if the service helped survivors then she wished it well. However, she warned it “should not be used to pull people back into the Catholic Church”.

Mrs Collins also said the spiritual companions offered must include lay people, as many of those who were abused at the hands of Church personnel would not feel comfortable with a priest or Religious.

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