By Susan Gately - 29 December, 2018
Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and President of the Irish Episcopal Conference, will meet survivors of clerical abuse before the crucial Vatican meeting on the Protection of Minors from 21 to 24 February 2019.
“As a priest and bishop I have already met many survivors and have always found it a humbling yet important and worthwhile experience,” he told CatholicIreland.net.
“In the early New Year I will plan for further meetings to enable meaningful and constructive engagement with survivors and others in advance of the Rome convention. I will set aside time before going to Rome so that I can hear first-hand the thoughts of victims and survivors, as well as speak to some of their representatives and those who have been providing counselling and support services to survivors of abuse in Ireland.”
His comments came after the steering committee for the 21 to 24 February meeting in the Vatican on the Protection of Minors wrote to the presidents of the episcopal conferences of the world asking them to prepare for the crucial meeting by learning “first-hand” the suffering that victims have endured and meeting survivors of abuse.
Without a “comprehensive and communal response, not only will we fail to bring healing to victim survivors, but the very credibility of the Church to carry on the mission of Christ will be in jeopardy throughout the world,” wrote the steering committee, in a letter signed by Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna and Fr Hans Zollner SJ.
The first step must be acknowledging the truth of what has happened, continued the letter dated 18 December. “For this reason, we urge each Episcopal Conference president to reach out and visit with victim survivors of clergy sex abuse in your respective countries prior to the meeting in Rome, to learn first-hand the suffering that they have endured.”
The steering committee also asked the bishops to answer the questionnaire attached to the letter. “It provides a tool for all the participants of the meeting in February to express their opinions constructively and critically as we move forward, to identify where help is needed to bring about reforms now and in the future, and to help us get a full picture of the situation in the Church.”
The Holy Father is convinced that through collegial cooperation, the challenges facing the Church can be met. But each of us needs to own this challenge, coming together in solidarity, humility, and penitence to repair the damage done, sharing a common commitment to transparency, and holding everyone in the Church accountable, the letter concluded.
Archbishop Eamon Martin, Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All-Ireland, is the President of the Irish Episcopal Conference.