A Victim of Clerical Sex Abuse Speaks Out

In all of Ireland’s current sex abuse scandals, it seems the perspectives of the victims keep getting lost as we focus on the bishops of the Irish Catholic Church, or on abusers like Liam Adams.

Today an anonymous victim of clerical sexual abuse had a letter published in the Irish Times. It is heartbreaking to read. The victim poignantly describes how difficult it is to participate in the normal cultural practices of Irish life, such as attending weddings, communions, and other ceremonies in Catholic churches.

The victim writes movingly about wanting to face the abuser. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin attempted to arrange a face-to-face meeting, but the abuser refused. The victim’s desire for acknowledgement from the abuser is a familiar story, like that related by Aine Tyrell during the week.

The writer of the letter also provides a remarkable list of measures that the Irish Government and Irish people could themselves do to not only demonstrate their solidarity with victims, but to ensure that such abuse does not happen again:

  • Protesting for one week outside churches in Ireland when services are on.
  • Withdrawing funding from an organisation that, in Irish terms, has been responsible for an “Irish holocaust” of physical and mental abuse of hundreds of children, as children and beyond into their adult lives.
  • Outlawing (proscribing) the Catholic organisation until such time as it (like other organisations which we have banned during our history) demonstrates that it has fully reformed itself.
  • Requiring the church to publish the list of churches and timeframes where and when abuse occurred (those listed in the reports and those not listed, ie outside the sample of cases).
  • Forcing the Government truly to separate State and church through requiring Catholic clergy, and the religious, to resign from school boards/management, hospital boards/management, health services boards/management, etc.
  • Requiring any public servant who has expressed support – through inaction or through words of bureaucratic mumble-jumble – for the Catholic hierarchy, or the papal nuncio, to resign.
  • Requiring clerics in positions of governance who failed to act appropriately to resign rather than hide behind word games of “reflection”, “mental reservation” and such utterances, insulting to victims such as myself.

In one of the final lines of the letter, the victim asks: When will the people of Ireland stand up for me and others?

When indeed? It is one thing waiting for more bishops to resign, as Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin Dr James Moriarty did today. It would take quite a bit more to implement the measures outlined in the victim’s letter. What are we waiting for?

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