Priest applauded for admitting shame at diocese 'darkness''
A popular Catholic curate told Mass-goers yesterday that he felt "ashamed" at the revelations of a church-run investigation into clerical sex abuse, saying the victims must get justice from the State.
Father Damien McGroarty (29) spoke out as the Bishop of Raphoe Philip Boyce issued a pastoral letter apologising to victims.
"Our diocese has had a darkness in it," said Father McGroarty at St Eunan's Cathedral in Letterkenny yesterday. "There have been terrible sins committed against children in the one space where they should have been safe.
"There has been a terrible evil inflicted on innocent children in our church, in our diocese, in our county and in our country.
"We have so much to answer for and one day we will have to answer to God.
"These past few years I have always felt so self-conscious about my decision to become a priest. Will people ridicule me for being a priest? Will I be branded a paedophile priest?
"Even now I am so self-conscious walking down the street ... wondering in my head 'what are people thinking of me?' Even when I drive past a school I feel a sense of shame and guilt."
He said he hoped that he wouldn't be judged on the actions of a few priests. "I hope and I pray that justice is administered by the State and by the church," he said to applause from the congregation.
In Bishop Boyce's letter, which he read at a later Mass at St Eunan's Cathedral, he said he welcomed the positive aspects of the review.
But the bishop went on: "I express my sincere regret and I apologise for what was deficient in safeguarding practices in the diocese, for the errors of judgment that were made, for not having given sufficient attention to the needs of survivors and for the lack of promptness during earlier years in reporting allegations to the statutory authorities."