Dear Editor, As you and your readers will be aware the Holy Father Pope Francis has called the presidents of bishops’ conference to Rome to discuss the vital issue of safeguarding at a meeting from February 21-24. As we are all too painfully aware in Ireland, this is an issue that has profound consequences for those who have experienced abuse and their families, and it is also a deep wound to the Body of Christ – the Church.
Ahead of my participation at the meeting on behalf of the Irish Episcopal Conference, I shall be meeting with some victims and survivors of abuse, and the organising group has also requested that the participants reflect on a number of questions. I would like to share these questions with your readers in the hope that they will reflect and pray with me about this important issue in the life of the Church. I would welcome their thoughts and suggestions regarding these questions:
-How would you describe the present situation regarding sexual abuse of minors in the Catholic Church in Ireland?
-How would you describe the level of awareness of this topic among the public?
-In your opinion, what are the greatest risk factors for the sexual abuse of minors in Ireland?
-What are the factors in Ireland that contribute to a lack of adequate response by the Church in dealing with child sexual abuse?
-What are the most effective preventive measures that the Catholic Church in Ireland has adopted to protect children from sexual abuse in the Church?
-If you had one key message to communicate to the meeting in Rome on this issue, what would it be?
As I continue my reflections ahead of the meeting, I would appreciate any feedback on these questions so we can continue to build on the important work of safeguarding that is already an integral part of our mission to ensure that the Church is a safe environment for children and other vulnerable people. Your readers may write to me at the address below or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Archbishop Eamon Martin,
President of the Irish Episcopal Conference,
Armagh BT61 7QY.
Drogheda hospital needs to be renamed
Dear Editor, It was only on seeing your piece (IC 10/1/2019) that I was aware of the proposed name change to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. When I saw this as the only such named Hospital amongst the list of those ready to provide abortion ‘services’ recently I felt that the name should be changed. How can any place where the unborn are killed have a Catholic name? Is it not more of a victory, however hollow, for those hostile to the Church to have these atrocities administered in the name of Our Lady of Lourdes?
I have no personal connection with Drogheda and appreciate that there are other points of view. Nonetheless I cannot see any good in the Church trying to cling desperately on with a name that suggests that it has accepted “the will of the people” and is complicit in these acts.
Tallaght, Dublin 24.
What about trauma?
Dear Editor, The ordinary medicines we use for colds and flu are accompanied by warnings about the possible side effects.
During the past week, I listened to the heart breaking testimonies of women suffering from post-abortion trauma. They spoke about profound, long-lasting, depression and guilt.
Help is available through professional and spiritual counselling.
But many are asking the question: “why were we not warned about this beforehand”?
Women considering an abortion have the right, to be fully informed about the dangers, by all those who are providing so called, “abortion services”.
I can, however, find no mention of post-abortion trauma on the new HSE abortion websites.
Strandhill Road, Sligo.
St Stephen’s Guild enrolment can help
Dear Editor, It was so encouraging to read Christina Malone and Fr Paul Thornton’s description of their Dublin ‘Diocesan Altar Servers Day’ (IC 10/1/2019).
Sadly, and perhaps as a result of very strict child protection guidelines, there appears to be a decreasing number of altar servers in Ireland. Meanwhile in many English parishes the Guild of St Stephen guarantees a regular supply of well-trained experienced as well as young novice servers.
On visiting English parishes there never seems to be a shortage of servers young and old. I have seen older servers wearing with pride their St Stephen’s Guild medals. I have seen many silver medals marking at least 10 years of service and a few gold medals denoting 50 years of service.
Perhaps use of enrolment ceremonies with accompanying certificates would enhance and revive this ancient and great ministry here in Irish parishes.
Killarney, Co Kerry.