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Statements by the Bishops' Standing Committee, by 18 Congregations and by Cori

Irish Times, May 26, 2009

“THE STANDING committee of the Irish Bishops’ Conference met yesterday in Maynooth. The committee welcomed the publication of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse Report , chaired by Mr Justice Seán Ryan, as a significant step in establishing the truth and enabling the voices of survivors of abuse to be heard. The following statement was issued at the end of the meeting:

We apologise to those so cruelly abused during their childhood while in Catholic-run industrial and reformatory schools. This abuse is all the greater because it was perpetrated by those called to care in the name of Jesus Christ.

No response to this far-reaching report can be confined to a single statement. To properly address past failures, and to safeguard children today, the whole church needs to analyse how and why such an abusive environment was allowed to develop and become endemic.

Our ongoing response must support survivors of abuse and promote a civilisation of love for children so that they can receive the best possible care and protection.

We will carefully reflect on the report and discuss its findings and recommendations more fully at the June general meeting of bishops.

We will work closely with religious congregations and institutes in addressing the needs of survivors of abuse and in the healing process.

We will continue to promote a safe, effective and accountable environment for children in co-operation with the National Office for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church and with all the relevant statutory agencies.”

The standing committee of the Irish Bishops’ Conference consists of the 12 members of the Irish Bishops’ Conference including the Archbishops of Armagh, Dublin, Cashel Emly, and Tuam. The committee is a scheduled meeting whose purpose is to plan for the subsequent general (plenary) meeting of the Irish Bishops’ Conference.

STATEMENT FROM the 18 congregations involved in the government redress agreement in 2002 

“Last Thursday ( May 21st) the 18 congregations planned a meeting in Dublin to jointly discuss the Ryan report.

The following statement was agreed:

At our meeting in Dublin this morning, we again recognise and accept the gravity of the findings and conclusions contained in the Ryan report.

We fully accept that we seriously failed vulnerable people while in our care and that we have an ongoing responsibility to try to meet their needs.

Rather than reopening the terms of the agreement reached with government in 2002, we reiterate our commitment to working with those who suffered enormously while in our care. We must find the best and most appropriate ways of directly assisting them.

We will meet again in the coming days to explore the detail of our responses.”

The 18 orders that signed the indemnity deal with the State, and on whose behalf the statement was issued, are: Sisters of Mercy; Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul; Christian Brothers; Good Shepherd Sisters; Presentation Brothers; Rosminians; Oblates of Mary Immaculate; Hospitaller Order of St John of God; Sisters of Charity; Sisters of Our Lady of Charity of Refuge; Sisters of St Clare; Institute of St Louis; Presentation Sisters; De La Salle Brothers; Dominicans; Daughters of the Heart of Mary; Brothers of Charity; Sisters of Nazareth.

CONFERENCE OF Religious in Ireland (Cori) statement: 

“Cori, which represents 138 religious congregations, wishes again to place on record its recognition of the appalling reality presented in the Ryan report published last Wednesday.

As previously stated, the emotional, physical and sexual abuse suffered by so many children on such a vast scale is horrendous.

Cori supports the 18 congregations whose institutions were investigated by the Ryan report in their efforts to find the best and most appropriate ways forward (a statement was issued on behalf of these 18 congregations earlier this evening).

All of us accept with humility that massive mistakes were made and grave injustices were inflicted on very vulnerable children. No excuse can be offered for what has happened.

The recommendations and conclusions of the Ryan report constitute an imperative for all those involved in the care of vulnerable people.”