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Abuse Protest at Easter Sunday Mass
Breaking News, 4 April 2010

Kevin Flanagan (left) and another man (name not given) both   survivors of clerical abuse confront Archbishop Diarmuid Martin (right)   on his way into Easter Sunday Mass at St Marys Pro-Cathedral, Dublin.

Kevin Flanagan (left) and another man (name not given) both survivors of clerical abuse confront Archbishop Diarmuid Martin (right) on his way into Easter Sunday Mass at St Marys Pro-Cathedral, Dublin.

Easter Sunday Mass at Dublin’s Pro Cathedral was briefly interrupted as protesters placed children’s shoes at the altar to represent the victims of clerical sex abuse.

Around five people walked to the steps of the altar where one man shouted “shame” at Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, who was celebrating the packed Mass.

Other protesters who mingled outside the city centre cathedral claimed they also tried to leave shoes but were prevented by gardaí.

Rachael Moran, from Dublin, said she was disgusted that so many people had attended the Mass in the wake of the abuse revelations.

“We’re just a collection of Irish people who’ve had enough,” she said.

“I am beyond disgusted that there are hundreds and hundreds of people in that church, it just really goes to show how warped the Irish mindset is.”

Joanne Connolly, from Rathfarnham, south Co Dublin, said she took the action to ensure the child victims would not be forgotten.

“Remember the children. Because nobody wants to know,” she said.

“They want to forget about it and get on with their lives.”

Both women said they were verbally abused by parishioners as they walked up the aisle.

Robert Mangan, who said his family has been affected by clerical child abuse, said the church was being hypocritical in claiming to be Christian.

Around a dozen people protested outside the Cathedral during Mass, strapping scores of children’s pink shoes to the railings and holding placards aloft as parishioners left.

Before Mass began, Archbishop Martin, who has called for full accountability in the church over child abuse, spoke with the protesters and was heckled and verbally abused by one man.

During his homily the senior clergyman said the truth would set the church free, even it was difficult to take.

And he said the Church in Ireland was being greatly scrutinised and examined.

“There are exposes of the failings of the church, there is questioning of the role of the church in Irish society in the past and in whatever our future may be,” he said.

“The role of the church in Ireland is being examined under a microscope and from every possible direction.”

The Archbishop called for the sins of the church to be exposed to the spotlight of the media.

The church in Ireland and the Vatican have both been under mounting pressure in the last month after Primate of All-Ireland Cardinal Sean Brady admitted holding secret interviews with two young victims of one of the church’s most heinous sex abusers, the late Brendan Smyth, in the 1970s.

Following that Pope Benedict faced claims he failed to properly investigate a serial abuser in a children’s home for the deaf in Wisconsin, United States, in the late 1990s.

Cardinal Brady has faced calls for his resignation over the affair and said he would address the issue on Pentecost Sunday, May 23.

Read more:


Angry Abuse Victims Heckle Martin Outside Easter Mass
Irish Independent April 05 2010, By Anne-Marie Walsh

FURIOUS abuse survivors heckled Archbishop Diarmuid Martin when he arrived to celebrate the biggest event in the church calendar.

Those who were raped and physically and emotionally abused by members of the clergy demanded he recognise the church's shame when he turned up for Easter Sunday mass at St Mary's Pro Cathedral in Dublin.

Protesters tied 1,000 tiny shoes to railings outside the cathedral to symbolise generations of children who fell victim to institutional abuse.

Inside, some protesters brought the tiny shoes to the altar during mass.

Their anger was not only directed at the archbishop and the Catholic hierarchy who they accuse of a cover-up.

Mass-goers, including parents and children holding Easter eggs and dressed in their Sunday best, were visibly shaken when confronted as they entered and left the church.

Abuse victim Eamon Reid (67) stood on the steps holding banners that read 'Hypocrites for Jesus' and displayed quotes from the bible on the fate of those who harmed children.

"Hang your heads in shame," one of the protesters shouted at the crowds leaving the church.

"My mother committed suicide due to this organisation.

"Out and out hypocrisy to claim to be Christian. A whole country abused and still in denial. Fifty years of raping children.

"This was the largest paedophile ring in Ireland."

Another yelled: "Children were raped by crucifixes."

Some of those leaving the church confronted the protesters, but there was little sign of reconciliation as they left.

"What you got wrong is that it wasn't the whole church," said one mass-goer.

"It was a few."

'Bad apples'
William Kershaw, who said he was locked up in dark rooms for days at a time when he lived at a number of institutions, wanted to emphasise that much of the clergy were not to blame, and he praised a nun called Sr Esther who helped him turn his life around.

Kevin Flanagan from Ballymun, whose brother was abused in an industrial school in Artane, said that not all priests had abused but many "bad apples" were complicit in the 'cover-up' that followed.

He called for the bishops to be charged with withholding information on crimes.

Robert O'Mongain, whose mother was placed in an institution when she was orphaned, said his life would never be the same.

"I don't want to get into what happened to her," he said. "But she'd probably still be here today if it wasn't for the Catholic Church."

Marie Therese O'Loughlin, who was baptised in the Pro Cathedral and suffered physical abuse at an industrial school in Goldenbridge in Dublin, said the archbishop had promised to look into her case.

She said a garda at the church had told her not to go to communion, perhaps fearing she might cause an uproar.

"I don't think the garda had the right to ask that of me," she said.

"You can't blame the people here who are showing their anger but all I want is my suffering to be recognised."

- Anne-Marie Walsh

Abuse Protesters Confront Martin
Irish Times, Apr 05, 2010 by PATSY McGARRY Religious Affairs Correspondent

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin was confronted by former residents of institutions run by religious orders yesterday when he arrived to say Easter Sunday Mass at the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin.

About a dozen former residents of institutions run by religious congregations protested outside the cathedral, its railings draped in pairs of infants’ shoes, with black ribbons attached. Stewards refused some protesters admittance to the cathedral.

Kevin Flanagan, whose brother Michael had been in Artane, said he was refused entry to the church his mother had attended for 15 years. “She gave money to this church,” he said.

Mr Flanagan challenged the archbishop when he came out to meet the protesters. “He was talking on the radio about accountability. I said ‘you’re covering up for Cardinal Connell . . . there’s no accountability there. He should be charged for withholding information about criminals’,” he said. Dr Martin said that was being investigated by gardaí.

John Ayers, who “was beaten every day to make me a Catholic”, told the archbishop: “Your church is not welcome in my country any more. It is a Nazi religion. I want it to leave my country, I want you to leave my country.”

Among those allowed in were “Antoinette” and Rachel. After the offertory procession, they brought pairs of infants’ shoes to the altar “as a symbol” and recognition that some who had served behind altar rails abused children. Antoinette could go no further than the rails.

As they returned down the aisle, people in the pews said: “You ought to be ashamed of yourselves”; “It’s a disgrace”; “How dare ye!”; and “Shame on you”. Nervous anyhow, this upset both women deeply.

Other protesters included Rose, who spent 15 years at a “high-class industrial school”, as the nuns described it, in Cork.

She wept yesterday, recalling the punishments children suffered there: being put in with pigs, being stung with nettles, made to eat what they had thrown up, as well as the splitting up of her family of six.

Marie Therese was a resident of the Goldenbridge orphanage in Dublin until the age of 16. At the age of nine, she left a host family and was found on O’Connell Street.

She recalled she was never to see the outside of the orphanage again for seven years. Yesterday she had a doll in one hand and a copy of Oliver Twist in the other, the doll to symbolise what she never had in childhood.

At the Mass Dr Martin said the protesters’ anger was understandable. It happened wherever you encountered a loss of childhood, he said.

Probe After Shoes Used in Tribute to Abused Go Missing
Irish Independent April 06 2010 by By Patricia McDonagh

GARDAI are investigating the unexplained disappearance of 1,000 pairs of children's shoes that were used to symbolise the suffering of victims of clerical abuse.

Abuse survivors had tied the tiny shoes to the railings outside a Dublin Cathedral on Sunday, to symbolise generations of children who fell victim to institutional abuse.

But yesterday it emerged that the shoes, which had been draped all around St Mary's Pro-Cathedral, had mysteriously gone missing from the railings.

It remained unclear last night whether they had been removed by a third party or stolen by an unscrupulous passer-by.

Abuse campaigner Frank Robinson bought the shoes for €4,200 from Denmark to use as an international symbol against child abuse.

He was left distraught when he went to collect them from outside the cathedral later on Sunday to find they had gone missing.

Gardai last night said they were examining the circumstances leading up to the disappearance of the shoes, which were reported missing at 6pm on Sunday.

A spokesman for the pro-cathedral did not answer calls by the Irish Independent last night.

The shoes were initially hung up in a bid to urge Archbishop Diarmuid Martin to recognise the Catholic Church's shame when he turned up for Easter Sunday Mass at St Mary's Pro-Cathedral.

Those who were raped and physically and emotionally abused by members of the clergy heckled him when he arrived to celebrate the biggest event in the church calendar.

The church has been under immense pressure in recent weeks to push for the resignation of church hierarchy who were involved in the cover up of clerical child abuse.

In a move seen as a further failure for victims, Cardinal Sean Brady this week signalled he would not leave his position as head of the Catholic Church in Ireland -- despite widespread calls for his resignation since it emerged that he swore abuse victims to secrecy.

Missing 'Clerical Abuse' Symbolic Shoes Found
Irish Independent, April 07 2010 by Shane Hickey

Some 1,000 pairs of children's shoes used to symbolise the suffering of clerical abuse victims have been found after fears they had gone missing.

Protesting campaigners had tied the tiny shoes to the railings outside St Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin in advance of Easter services on Sunday.

Frank Robinson, who bought the shoes for about €4,200, became concerned when they mysteriously disappeared on Sunday afternoon.

However, it emerged yesterday that the shoes had been stored in the parish office of the pro-cathedral after staff took them down from the railings.

A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Dublin said the shoes had been removed after the events on Sunday. They will be handed back this morning.

Mr Robinson said he hoped the shoes, bound together with a piece of black ribbon, would become a global symbol for the generations of children who fell victim to institutional child abuse.

"I want to spread this right around the world," he said of his 'Baby Shoes Remember' project.

There were angry scenes outside the pro-cathedral at the weekend when Archbishop Diarmuid Martin was confronted by abuse survivors.

Easter Protests at Cathedral - Letter in Irish Times, 8 April 2010


I witnessed the scenes outside the Pro-Cathedral in Dublin before 11am Mass on Easter Sunday, and the personal vituperation directed at Archbishop Diarmuid Martin. While understanding and accepting the rage of those abused by clergy, I think it might be more productive if protesters organised a delegation to Rome to meet the Pope, to deliver the message to him that misuse of authority is one of the Catholic Church's most serious problems, which is crying out for urgent remedial measures.

Attacking Diarmuid Martin amounts to attacking the wrong target.

Yours, etc,

Mulgrave Street,
Dún Laoghaire,
Co Dublin.