The Ferns Report marks the conclusive failure of the system and attitude by which our hierarchy have chosen to govern our church since Vatican II. Their failure to put in place structures that would have allowed a culture of openness, equal dignity, dialogue and enlightenment to develop has meant that a culture of deference, denial, inertia and secrecy was allowed to flourish in its place.
It has taken the appalling suffering of children, and of their parents, to reveal this clearly – but so far there has been no recognition of the failure of the church system itself by those charged with leadership. As a consequence it is now Ireland’s secular institutions alone that can be trusted to ensure that children are safe in our church. The failure of our hierarchy has therefore been a betrayal of their evangelical responsibility also, and a major cause of the anti-Catholic secularisation they have lamented.
We now call upon our hierarchy to face squarely their own sins of abuse of trust and of power, to acknowledge the failure of a system, and to bring the whole people of God fully for the first time into the intellectual and administrative life of our church.