Bishop apologises to victims of abuse
The Bishop of Derry has apologised to victims of physical and sexual abuse at the Sisters of Nazareth homes in Northern Ireland.
Dr Seamus Hegarty offered his apology after a three hour meeting with two women and three men who each told him their harrowing experiences while in the care of the church.
Margaret McGuckin, Frances Reilly, John McCourt, John Meehan and Brian Doherty, declared after the meeting that they believed Dr Hegarty’s apology to be sincere and that this was the first step on a painful road that will bring recognition to all those abused by the church.
Speaking after the meeting Ms McGuckin said: “At the beginning of this meeting we were not hopeful at all but we now have a different aspect of Bishop Hegarty. He was very genuine and he has believed everything we said.”
Mr McCourt added: “There was not one point that the Bishop and Father [Michael] Canny were not engaging with what we were offering.
“I think this is not the end of the road but part of the journey that has a lot more pain to be expressed.”
Bishop Hegarty said: “For many years their voices have gone unheard.
“It is important therefore that I am part of the process whereby their voices are heard in society.
“It is one thing to accept the truth of a personnal account, but today’s encounter was an opportunity to see the human pain, experienced by each individual, that lies behind the story.”
A group of lay Catholics, meanwhile, has called on Cardinal Brady to resign, saying he has been compromised by the culture of silence within the church.
Voice of the Faithful Ireland (VOTFI) said the cardinal's failure to challenge that culture means he no longer has the full confidence of Catholics, and especially that of the survivors of clerical sex abuse.