Belfast Telegraph

Church pledges funds for abuse help

The Catholic Church in Ireland has pledged an extra 10 million euro for a counselling and helpline service for child abuse survivors.

It is part of a number of initiatives to mark the first anniversary of Pope Benedict's Pastoral letter to Irish Catholics.

Church-goers are being given a pastoral response Towards Healing and Renewal, while Bishops are to set aside each first Friday as a day of fasting and prayer in reparation for the abuse.

All-Ireland Primate Cardinal Sean Brady said the moves were "tangible signs" the Church was working to ensure all children were cared for.

"As a result of the grievous wrong of abuse, for many survivors their faith in God and the Church has been profoundly damaged. Many have expressed a hope that this damage can be addressed.

"In Towards Healing and Renewal we commit trained pastoral personnel to this delicate challenge of healing and renewal."

The 10 million euro for the Towards Healing counselling service over the next five years will be evenly split between dioceses and religious orders.

It was originally only a counselling service, set up in 1997, but has now been expanded to provide group work, practical workshops and a bridging service to link users of Towards Healing with other services such as psychiatry, addiction services and services for the homeless.

The service has also extended its opening hours this weekend.

In his pastoral letter last year Pope Benedict XVI apologised to victims of abuse.

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