The ‘synodal pathway’ embarked upon by the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference in March 2021 has shown some promise of addressing the shortfall in justice and support experienced by Irish survivors of abuse within the church. Will the full implications of the mishandling of the disaster ever be absorbed by the church’s clerical leaders?
In a statement following the Irish bishops’ winter conference in December 2022 the following declaration occurs:
“There was a palpable sense that despite many efforts by the Church, a ‘reckoning’ had not yet taken place, and the synodal process generated a clear imperative to place this issue at the heart of any Church renewal and reform. A submission noted: We must pledge ourselves to journey with survivors, to meet with them, preferably in small groups where dialogue is possible and opens us to the presence of the Spirit.”
To this end, Bishops undertook to engage with survivors in developing a process of dialogue which will be helpful and supportive of healing. Bishops will make contact with the Association of Leaders of Missionaries and Religious of Ireland (AMRI) to take this process forward in 2023.
What would constitute a full ‘reckoning’ on this issue? That is for survivors and their families to say. We can only hope and pray that the church leadership will commit to complete disclosure of the reasons for the disastrous policy of secrecy on the phenomenon of clerical child sex abuse that left families so unprotected and unwarned. Surviving members of VOTFI are convinced that only a thorough transformation of the governance of the church can do full justice to the suffering caused by a church system that so badly let everyone down.