Northern Ireland news

Bishop hugs historical institutional abuse survivor at Mass

Jon McCourt was abused while at St Joseph's Children's Home. Picture by Mal McCann

A MAN who was abused while living in an institution run by the Catholic Church has praised Bishop of Derry Donal McKeown after the church leader publicly hugged him at a Mass in the city.

Jon McCourt, who is part of the North West Survivors' Group, spent ten years at the Sisters of Nazareth-run Termonbacca home.

Following the publication of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA) report last week, Bishop McKeown delivered a hard-hitting homily on the issue at St Eugene's Cathedral and St Columba's Church, Long Tower at the weekend.

At the end of Sunday Mass at Long Tower, the bishop left the altar and walked to where Mr McCourt was standing to clasp his hand and give him a hug. Mr McCourt said the gesture caught him by surprise.

“He was about to leave the altar but turned and opened the gates and walked down the aisle to me and grabbed my hand and hugged me,” the Derry man said.

He added: “It was the human touch after the words. There is something about a hand shake and embrace; it was a very human moment."

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