With the Pope’s visit all over the news this week, there has been a lot of air time given to those who have survived clerical abuse in Ireland. The many women who were in Magdalene laundries, the children who were illegally adopted, those who were beaten and mistreated within schools and institutions and those who were sexually abused by priests.
As someone who has been abused, but not by anyone within the church, it’s been difficult to hear so many painful stories. Survivors who bared their souls, speaking of the horror they went through and in most cases the cover ups which compounded the hurt. Small children forced to sign agreements never again to discuss what happened to them, while the abuser was moved on to abuse elsewhere.
Because I no longer believe in a religion of any sort I was not overly interested in the visit of the Pope. However, I do know of many extraordinary good people who have a Catholic faith who have struggled with it.
How could they justify going to see their churches leader, when so many of their fellow Irishmen and women are struggling? So many who still carry the child who was hurt within them and the anger for the way the church has covered up it’s crimes. Continuously brushing their hurt under the carpet, with words not actions.
Today, before the Pope’s speech, I listened to a discussion on the radio between some who had been abused. There was hope in their words. Maybe today the Pope would embrace their hurt and make it very clear that he would root out all those who had hurt children and banish those who had covered it up?
With their hope in my heart I listened, knowing how much it would mean to so many if he sent a clear, strong message around the world that not only was he sorry, but he was angry and determined to root out evil.
But I heard no such words.
The effects of abuse last a lifetime, but the ongoing hurt for those survivors must make life very difficult. I too know what it’s like not to get justice. Once upon a time the swimming organisation did all they could to deny us a voice and by doing so supported my abuser.
It’s so sad that a visit by someone who has within his grasp the power to help heal so many, has instead added to their pain. After decades of tribunals what will it take for the church to do what is needed? When will the Pope demand all countries open their files and those who were involved in cover ups are removed permanently and tried where necessary?
I know after his speech the Pope spent time meeting survivors of abuse. Perhaps their stories will resonate with him? Perhaps tomorrow he’ll say what he failed to say today?
I’m not sure he will, but I do hope, that if I’ve backed the wrong horse and there is a God, that his idea of justice is a lot clearer and fairer than those who speak in his name here on earth.