One In Four, the national charity working to support people who have experienced sexual abuse, today welcomed the announcement from the Minister for Health and Children, Minister Micheal Martin confirming the start of the Ferns Inquiry into Clerical Sexual Abuse.
Colm O'Gorman, Director of One In Four, who called for the inquiry following the broadcast of the BBC documentary “Suing the Pope” almost one year ago called the inquiry “a groundbreaking and vital first step in determining the way in which Church and State authorities responded to suspicions, allegations and complaints of clerical sexual abuse.”
“If we are ever to get to the truth of how the Catholic Church and the State at all levels have dealt with such cases, not just in Ferns but in all the dioceses of Ireland it is vital that this inquiry be focused and committed to uncovering the truth of what the Church and State authorities did, or failed to do, in response to the many complaints and allegations made about Priests from the Diocese of Ferns. Such a clear and focused inquiry will then act to inform future inquires into sexual abuse elsewhere, for example, the proposed inquiry into clerical sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin. This Inquiry is very much a ‘first step’ in a process that should lead to a final acknowledgement of the level of systemic failure on the part of the Catholic Church to respond appropriately to the rape and abuse of children by its priests.”
One In Four particularly welcomes the robustness of the Terms of Reference for the Inquiry in that they address many of the issues raised by One In Four in consultations with the Minister and his officials in the lead up to the Inquiry. O’Gorman said “Given that the Inquiry is non-statutory it is imperative that it should not be an impotent mechanism of investigation.
What it is clear is that while the inquiry seeks the cooperation of all parties subject to investigation, if such cooperation is in any doubt or if cooperation is withheld the Inquiry will be granted full statutory powers. Whilst the expressed commitment of the Church and other authorities to cooperate fully with the inquiry is to be welcomed, it is of grave importance that they understand that their cooperation is not in any way ‘gifted’, if they fail to cooperate in any way they must be compelled to finally and fully disclose the way in which they have responded to the scandal of clerical abuse. This is a final chance for the Catholic Church to act with some overdue integrity, the time for spin and hiding behind Canon Law and legal advise is now past.”
One In Four is committed to playing an active part in this Inquiry and will to work to provide an effective voice for victims of sexual abuse. The organisation is dedicated to ensuring that any person abused in such circumstances will be able to access the support and information to which they are entitled in coming forward to give evidence to the Inquiry. We urge any victim who wishes to seek such support from One In Four to contact our office on 01 662 4070.
Ends/Posted by Colm at March 28, 2003 03:24 PM