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Abuse Victims Urge Churchgoers To Keep Donations

Irish Independent, Monday November 04 2002 by Kathy Donaghy

CHILD abuse victims are to mount a new campaign targeting church collections, asking people to stop donating money which might be spent paying the legal fees of clerical paedophiles.

The campaign "No donations without representations" is calling on the church-going public not to give money either by envelope or to the church plate if lay people are not involved in how the money is being spent at a local level.

The campaign mirrors the actions of lay people in Boston in the US who are trying to stop donations until their representatives are involved in how that money is spent.

Co-ordinator of Survivors of Child Abuse (SOCA), John Kelly, said the public needed to know their money was not being spent on compensation claims or on protracted legal actions by paedophile priests.

"The campaign will send a strong signal to the hierarchy. People are angered by the money paid out to the likes of Fr Ivan Payne," said Mr Kelly.

Irish SOCA member Eoin Little, who is coordinating the campaign, said it was not the campaign's intention to make priests live in penury.

However, he said lay people should be involved in the management of Church funds to ensure it was being spent on the parish and not on prolonging the suffering of victims through legal actions.

"We are asking people not to put money into the collection boxes until there is representation at a local level," said Mr Little. "We don't want to get involved in the day-to-day running of the Church. It's the financial management we are looking at.

"Nobody wants to see priests walking around in sandals they had three years ago priests have nothing to fear from people going in to help out to make sure money is being spent according to the wishes of the people," he said.

He said they would be putting forward ideas whereby parishioners would get involved in the financial management of their Church.

"It's about the shareholders taking control. It's a reasonable thing to request," said Mr Little.

Members of Irish SOCA will meet Justice Minister Michael McDowell at his Department tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the CARI Foundation for children and families affected by sexual abuse are offering a national helpline for anyone with concerns about abuse.

In 2001 they received over 1,200 calls, bringing to 3,000 the total number of calls, including client support calls.

Adults can also ring and discuss sexual abuse they endured. The local helpline is accessible nationwide on 1890-924567, or from Northern Ireland and Britain on 1830 8523.

- Kathy Donaghy