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Primate seeks feedback on abuse questionnaire

By Susan Gately - 18 January, 2019

“I want to give [the faithful] the opportunity to reflect and to pray and put pen to paper to me if they wish”.

Archbishop Eamon Martin, Primate of All Ireland.

In advance of the crucial child protection meeting in the Vatican from 21 to 24 February, the Primate of all Ireland has written an open letter to the Irish Catholic newspaper, soliciting feedback from the faithful in preparation for the meeting.

“I think it is very important that I be informed by as many people as possible,” the Archbishop of Armagh told the Irish Catholic. “First and foremost victims and survivors and I am going through a process to meet with victims and survivors to hear directly from them ahead of the meeting.

“I’ve also sought the views of my fellow bishops and religious,” he said, but noted that “a group that is often forgotten is the faithful who have also been deeply impacted by the grave scandal of abuse in the Church. Many of them have been bewildered, angered and had their faith tested in recent years by the revelation of these terrible things happening.”

Archbishop Eamon Martin, who will be the sole representative of the Irish episcopacy at the meeting in Rome, said he was concerned that there were people who still felt they had not been heard and he “wanted to give them the opportunity to reflect and to pray and put pen to paper to me if they wish”.

The questions the Archbishop seeks feedback on are:

  • How would you describe the present situation regarding sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church in Ireland?
  • How would you describe the level of awareness of this topic among the public?
  • In your opinion, what are the greatest risk factors for the sexual abuse of minors in Ireland?
  • What are the factors in Ireland that contribute to a lack of adequate response by the Church in dealing with child sexual abuse?
  • What are the most effective preventive measures that the Catholic Church in Ireland has adopted to protect children from sexual abuse in the Church?
  • If you had one key message to communicate to the meeting in Rome on this issue, what would it be?

Members of the faithful can write to him at Ara Coeli, Cathedral Road, Armagh BT61 7QY or email him at [email protected]. No deadline is given in the letter.

“As I continue my reflections ahead of the meeting, I would appreciate any feedback on these questions so we can continue to build on the important work of safeguarding that is already an integral part of our mission to ensure that the Church is a safe environment for children and other vulnerable people,” concludes the letter in the Irish Catholic.

The President of the Irish Episcopal Conference told the Irish Catholic he believed “in a humble way and from bitter experience” that the Irish Church had something to share “in the hope that other parts of the world can learn from our mistakes and what we have done wrong and also learn from what we think is best practice in terms of standards”. He admitted, however, that it could not be expected that a meeting in Rome would solve the issue of safeguarding throughout the world. “But it can set high standards for us.”

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