Abuse survivor Marie Collins has welcomed Pope Francis’ call for bishops to continue helping victims of clerical abuse.
She also expressed
disappointment with recent criticism of the Murphy Report from the
Association of Catholic Priests and warned that some priests who feel
hurt may be tempted to try and rewrite history when it comes to abuse.
Following Francis’ first public discussion on the issue during his
meeting with Dutch bishops this week – in which he stated: “I promise
compassion and prayer for every victim of sexual abuse and their
families. I ask you to continue supporting them on their painful path to
healing, undertaken with courage” – Mrs Collins said
that his message was “encouraging”.
“It is very good to hear Pope Francis speak on the issue,” Ms Collins
said. “I hope he will be heard in Ireland as there is still a need to
reach out [and] there is still a great need to listen to survivors.”
Praising the Irish Church’s initiative for survivors, Towards
Healing, which has worked with survivors of abuse towards formulating
efficient counselling services, Ms Collins nevertheless stressed that
“different survivors need different things, and not all want
counselling. All of them do, however, seek a resolution of the past.”
In this, Mrs Collins offered praise also for Archbishop Diarmuid
Martin who in his November 24 homily marking the tenth anniversary of
Safeguarding Children spoke of the need to do more in reaching out to
survivors, “beyond the great work of Towards Healing, to create an open
door and a safe space for those survivors who have still fear telling
their story and who still live alone with their anguish”.
Mrs Collins added that she had been “very disappointed” with the
recent Association of Catholic Priests’ study on the Murphy Report which
had questioned elements of the report and its compilation.
“I understand priests are upset, but we must accept the past no
matter how bitter a pill that is to swallow,” she said, adding, “I hope
people who feel aggrieved will listen to the Pope rather than trying to
rewrite the past.”