Catholic Church apologises for decades of abuse but victims bitter as Archbishop pleads for forgiveness

By Stephen Stewart
Daily Record
August 19, 2015

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia

Dr Andrew McLellan CBE gives details of the McLellan Commission report.

Disgraced: Cardinal Keith O'Brien

Dave Sharp

ARCHBISHOP Philip Tartaglia said Scottish bishops were “shamed and pained” by the suffering over the years.

SCOTLAND’S most senior Catholic yesterday offered a “profound” apology to the Church’s sex abuse victims.

Archbishop Philip Tartaglia said Scottish bishops were “shamed and pained” by the suffering over the years.

But campaigners dismissed the apology as empty words. And they accused the Catholic Church of glossing over decades of abuse.

Tartaglia spoke out after an independent commission set up to investigate abuse called on the Church to make an “unmistakeable and unequivocal” apology.

Speaking at St Andrew’s Cathedral in Glasgow, the archbishop said: “On behalf of all the Bishops of Scotland, I want to offer a profound apology to all those who have been harmed and who have suffered in any way as a result of actions by anyone within the Catholic Church.

“Child abuse is a horrific crime. That this abuse should have been carried out within the Church and by priests and religious (orders), takes that abuse to another level.

“Such actions are inexcusable and intolerable.

“The harm the perpetrators of abuse have caused is first and foremost to their victims. But it extends far beyond them, to their families and friends, as well as to the Church and wider society.

“We ask forgiveness.”

Veteran priest Father John Robinson, who is patron of In Care Abuse Survivors, said: “I don’t think enough people in the Church realise how much damage has been done by this abuse.

“People are suffering from things that happened a long time ago. It is not enough to just look at the Church as it is now and focus on the changes.

“For a lot of different people, the Church’s words seem a bit empty. People were treated with great cruelty. Boys had their bottoms smacked until they bled. I know of one man in West Lothian who took his life – he just couldn’t cope.

“He was not getting the help he so obviously needed. He was only in his 20s when he passed away.

“It is important that we look at what we can do to make the church safe for everyone.”

The commission into abuse allegations were set up by Scottish bishops in 2013 after a series of scandals, including the resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien.

He stepped down from the archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh in February 2013 after priests accused him of inappropriate sexual conduct.

The Very Rev Andrew McLellan, a former moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, led the commission.

After publishing their report yesterday, he said: “Nothing in our report is more important than our first recommendation – that support for the survivors of abuse must be an absolute priority for the Catholic Church in Scotland.”

The Catholic Church in Scotland published records from 2006 to 2012, giving a breakdown of incidents reported during that time.

A total of 46 abuse allegations were made. There were no prosecutions in 61 per cent of all cases reported.

We are still waiting for justice

VICTIMS of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church want justice, not just an apology, according to Dave Sharp.

The 56-year-old, who was brutalised at a Christian Brothers school, in Falkland, Fife, said: “People who suffered at the hands of these men are going to continue to suffer, to commit suicide and to fall foul of drugs until the Church investigate the allegations.

“The Church have yet to do anything positive or tangible for the survivors. They have always been fully aware of the crimes their priests and brothers were committing but did little or nothing about it.”

Dave, right, added: “Now is the time to make sure that the voice of every survivor is heard, that their stories are thoroughly investigated and those responsible, if they are still alive, are punished.”


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