Bishop calls on Orders to support all abuse victims

The Bishop of Kilmore, Leo O"Reilly, has said that Religious Orders should use 'whatever resources they can afford' to help victims of child abuse and their families. He made the comments following last week"s publication of the Ryan Report which detailed shocking physical, sexual and emotional abuse and neglect of thousands of children in 216 schools run by religious organisations since the 1940s. His calls echo those of Cardinal Sean Brady who wants Religious Orders to 'revisit' the 2002 deal with the government, which capped their contribution towards compensating victims of clerical abuse at €128m - a mere tenth of the total compensation fund. So far the orders have defied senior clerics" pleas to re-negotiate the deal, which has yet to be fully implemented. Speaking exclusively to the Anglo-Celt yesterday (Tuesday), Bishop O"Reilly welcomed the publication of the report, describing it as 'a stark reminder of how the Church failed to live up to the ideals of Christ'. He said: 'It was Christ who said, Let the little children come to me... and he put his arms around them and blessed them. The appalling abuse inflicted on children in many Church institutions in the past was a terrible betrayal of those children and of the ideals of Christ.' Bishop O"Reilly said that establishing the truth of what happened is crucial to the healing process for survivors of abuse. 'The Ryan Report is a searing analysis of this tragic period and it vindicates those who were abused. I welcome its publication because it is an important step in ensuring that justice is afforded to victims and a warning to us that we must never be complacent when it comes to safeguarding children,' he said. On the question of revisiting the agreement between the Religious Orders and the government, Bishop O"Reilly said it"s important to keep the focus on the victims of abuse. 'From the outset we must ask ourselves how we can best support victims directly. Revisiting the agreement means simply paying more money to the government. Such an approach is not of direct benefit to victims. In the light of what we now know, I think the Religious Orders should use whatever resources they can afford to help victims and their families meet their very real needs. Recent statements from the Religious Orders indicate a willingness to do that and I welcome this approach,' he remarked. The bishop outlined to the Anglo-Celt that the work of putting structures and procedures in place in the Diocese of Kilmore to ensure the safety and welfare of children continues. 'We recently issued a newsletter about what we have been doing over the last several years in the diocese to ensure we are following best practice in the area of safeguarding children. You can view this information on kilmorediocese.ie,' said Bishop Leo. The Diocese of Kilmore plans to launch a new handbook on child safeguarding procedures on June 4 in the Diocesan Pastoral Centre. 'We are grateful for the generous volunteers in every parish, many of them parents who have given and continue to give their time to be involved in this service as parish representatives, members of recruitment committees, trainers, members of the Diocesan Committee,' he said. Bishop O"Reilly also repeated an appeal that anyone with information regarding alleged child sexual abuse by priests in Kilmore diocese come forward. St. Joseph"s Industrial School for girls in Cavan town, run by the Sisters of the Poor Clares, closed in 1967 after operating for almost 100 years. There were no complaints before the Commission from former residents, though stories of physical abuse, starvation and neglect from the Cavan orphanage are well documented. This was the only industrial school in the country to be run by an enclosed order of nuns. This week the HSE confirmed that more than 2,000 adults have contacted its North East Rian counselling service for adults who have experienced childhood abuse since the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was established in 2000. Rian counselling is a free, confidential service for any adult who has experienced the trauma of abuse or neglect in childhood. Counselling is available throughout the north east in Navan, Cavan, Drogheda, Dundalk and Monaghan, by phoning 1800-234117 for an appointment. Meanwhile, the Minister for Education, Batt O"Keeffe has said that one of the ideas being considered is a trust fund for those who suffered abuse. At the time of going to print yesterday evening, government ministers were discussing the issue at a special cabinet meeting. Recommendations are due to be issued from the meeting.

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