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Church Rebuked for '200 Years of Abuse'

The Irish Examiner, 08 Apr 2002 by Michael O'Farrell

An angry protester outside the Christian Brother bicentenary celebration at the RDS yesterday saw the priest who allegedly abused him walk into the Mass. "Paedophiles. Do you realise they're all a bunch of paedophiles in there," Gerard Kelly shouted to the line of cars queuing to enter. "I saw my abuser go in there. He walked right in and smiled at me."

Mr Kelly was one of some 150 protesters who were victims of clerical sexual abuse and they wanted the world to know.

George Bell, 55, who was abused in Artane boys' school, was crying and could hardly speak. "I was sexually abused since I was three ... I was beaten seven days a week," he said before collapsing on the pavement.

Anthony Doyle, 45, from Dublin was institutionalised from the age of seven in various Christian Brother schools and institutions.

"From the age of seven I experienced nothing but terrible psychological and physical abuse. My whole life was ruined to this day.

"To see the hundreds and hundreds, coachloads of people, arriving to have a celebration. A celebration of what? Two-hundred years of abuse, violence and tyranny," he said.

"How come they expect us to get on with our lives? And they expect us to go through a process of counselling and healing while they are still in denial, hiding behind public relations people," he said.

Inside, Cardinal Desmond Connell was saying Mass to mark the bicentenary of the birth of Edmund Rice, founder of the Christian Brothers.

Before the mass the cardinal told the congregation of 2000 of the "unthinkable harm" that had been caused.

"In place of nurturing the young people committed to their care, they have succumbed to what the Holy Father, speaking of priests who have offended in similar ways, has recently called the most grievous forms of the mystery of iniquity at work in the world."

The cardinal said the present time was a profoundly difficult moment for the Church in Ireland and abroad and asked "God's forgiveness and his healing".

"We ask this for ourselves and the victims, who have been so gravely wronged by those who were our brothers," he said.

After the protest, a meeting was held where the survivors called for a tribunal of inquiry, justice for all victims, recognition of all those abused and fair compensation.