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Friday, October 28, 2016
Irish bishops issue Lenten reflection on child sexual abuse
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¬†On behalf of the Irish Bishops' Conference, the Primate of All Ireland and Archbishop of Armagh Dr SeŠn Brady and the Bishop of Limerick, Dr Donal Murray, today launched a pastoral reflection for Lent on responding to child sexual abuse entitled: Towards Healing. At the press conference, which took place in St Patrick's College Maynooth, Archbishop Brady said: "tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Lent is a time of reflection, a time when we set out to improve our lives in the light of the Gospel. This makes it an appropriate time for the Church to reflect on its journey of becoming more faithful to the Gospel in its response to the issue of Child Sexual Abuse." Bishop Murray said: "The Good Samaritan is our model. We must not, like the priest and Levite in the parable, pass by on the other side, failing to see somebody's suffering because we are too wrapped up in our own business to notice. To be a Good Samaritan means being available to listen, to learn, to understand and to offer wholehearted help. Bishop Murray continued: "Over the last ten years, we have learned a great deal about the measures needed to respond effectively to the issue of abuse (see below). We wish to share what we have painfully learnt. The cry for healing needs to be heard from all victims of child sexual abuse - whether abused by priests or others." "The first step in the process of healing is to learn to understand the enormous impact of that betrayal on the victim. The healing journey has many dimensions and is different for every individual. The steps could include such things as ongoing counselling/family counselling or it may be that a person's education has been blighted by the experience of abuse and that some kind of educational provision would help. We recognise the journey of healing may need to continue for a long time. "The task of accompanying those in need of healing is a task for all of us. All Christians, not just bishops and clergy, through their gifts and skills and time and friendship, must aim to bring healing to those who have suffered child sexual abuse. "One of the greatest losses for those who were abused as children is that it has often made it hard for them to see the Church as a source of hope and consolation and strength. We would dearly love to be able to restore what was taken from them." Bishop Murray concluded: "There are many resources in the Church community: spiritual direction; counselling; educational skills; financial know how; medical and psychiatric expertise. We are asking people with these skills, and many others, to consider putting them at the service of the journey towards healing. Easter promises healing and hope beyond anything we can imagine." Towards Healing, the Irish Bishops' Conference pastoral reflection for Lent 2005 is available on the website of the Catholic Communications Office at: and is being distributed throughout dioceses and parishes on the island of Ireland. It is also being sent to groups representing victims of child sexual abuse.
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