Irish Catholic leaders apologise for child abuse

|PIC1|The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland has said he is deeply sorry and ashamed for decades of child abuse by priests.

A government-commissioned report published on Thursday concluded that the Church had covered up the systematic abuse of children within the Archdiocese of Dublin. It looked specifically at the period from 1975 to 2004 and noted a failure on the part of Church authorities to report the abuse to police, as priests were simply moved to new areas where they were able to abuse more children.

The report said the cover-up was motivated primarily by the Church’s desire to save its own reputation.

“All other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities,” it said.

Cardinal Sean Brady apologised to the victims of abuse and their families, as well as the people of Ireland.

“I am deeply sorry and I am ashamed,” he said. “No one is above the law in this country. Every Catholic should comply fully with their obligations to the civil law and cooperate with the Gardai in the reporting and investigation of any crime.”

The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, spoke of his sorrow and shame over what was described by one Church source in the report as a “tsunami” of child abuse.

He said in a statement: “The damage done to children abused by priests can never be undone. As Archbishop of Dublin and as Diarmuid Martin I offer to each and every survivor, my apology, my sorrow and my shame for what happened to them. I am aware however that no words of apology will ever be sufficient.

“The fact that the abusers were priests constituted both and offence to God and affront to the priesthood. The many good priests of the Archdiocese share my sense of shame.

“I ask you to support and encourage us in our ministry at what is a difficult time. I know also that many others, especially parents, feel shocked and betrayed at what has been revealed.

“I hope that all of us - bishops, priests and lay persons - working together can rebuild trust by ensuring that day after day the Church in the Archdiocese of Dublin becomes a safer environment for children.”