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Irish clerical abuse survivor critical of Amoris Laetitia

By Sarah Mac Donald - 16 April, 2016

Mark Vincent Healy meets Pope Francis in 2014 and Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston.

Mark Vincent Healy meets Pope Francis in 2014 and Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston.

An Irish survivor of clerical sexual abuse has expressed concern over the lack of any substantial discussion of child sexual abuse in Amoris Laetitia (Joy of Love).

Mark Vincent Healy became the first Irish male survivor of clerical child sexual abuse to meet Pope Francis when an historic meeting was arranged in 2014.

He had been sexually abused from the age of 9 to 12 by two Spiritan priests while a student at St Mary’s College Rathmines in Dublin.

Another Irish survivor of clerical abuse Marie Kane met the Pope the same day along with two other survivors from the UK and two from Germany.

On Thursday, Mr Healy issued a statement in which he expressed disappointment that though there are over 300 references to children in Amoris Laetitia there is only one which addresses the issue of sexual abuse of children.

He warned that the Joy of Love does not address the issue of the violation of the family and how the exhortation might address that “familial crisis which cuts to the heart of the crisis in the Catholic Church – disturbed and distressed by the scandal which ‘raided the nest’ or cradle of the faithful”.

According to Mark Vincent Healy, the vast majority of those who are disillusioned or lapsed cite the response of the hierarchy to the victims of CCSA as the reason why they no longer practice their former faith in the Catholic Church.

“I am not able to address the issue of CCSA in any other terms than as that of a crisis in a family,” he stated.

“It is that adult members of the Catholic family violated and attacked child members of the Catholic family in such heinous and abusively shameful terms which cannot only be understood as a fundamental human violation but as a fundamental spiritual violation.”

“The human and spiritual consequences are permanently scarred on a number of levels for life, if indeed that victim survives.”

He explained in his statement that he thought he might find some reference in Amoris Laetitia which might have addressed the need for healing in a family divided and how to address such pains on human and spiritual levels but there was nothing.

“What I did find was an exhortation to cherish the child by way of an instruction on page 129, ‘A child is a human being of immense worth and may never be used for one’s own benefit.’”

Mr Healy explained that he is currently in ongoing talks with religious orders to obtain reassurances that help will be forthcoming for CCSA survivors from Africa who come forward to report abuse but who are not currently getting the sort of support that is made available in Europe.

“The Catholic Church has a long way to go,” Mark Vincent Healy said and added, “There is a sort of Catholic Church discrimination where there is support for Irish CCSA victims of Irish priests but none for African CCSA victims abused by Irish priests.”

He concluded by stating, “These are not the actions of a compassionate church, a compassionate family gifted with Amoris Laetitia.”

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