Pope's visit

Clerical abuse victims call for zero tolerance approach

Members of the Ending Clerical Abuse (ECA) group gathered in Dublin yesterday on the eve of the Pope's visit to Ireland. Picture by Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Michelle Devane, Press Association

CLERICAL abuse victims have called for a zero tolerance approach to be taken against priests involved in child abuse scandals.

A global survivors group also proposed that a list of abusive priests be made public in an effort to protect others.

Members of the Ending Clerical Abuse (ECA) group - aimed at holding the Catholic Church to account for clerical sex abuse - gathered in Dublin yesterday to recount their stories on the eve of the Pope's visit to Ireland.

ECA founder Peter Isely, who was sexually assaulted as a child in the US, said: "[The priesthood] is the only occupation in civil society where you can rape and sexually assault a child and remain working as a member of that occupation.

"That's the problem."

The group also wants a no-tolerance approach to be adopted against any bishop involved in the cover up of child sex crimes.

The survivors criticised the Pope's child protection commission and said new leadership was needed before any reforms would be made.

Mr Isely said the commission had failed to deliver any meaningful reform since it was formed four years ago.

The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors was set up to investigate clerical sexual abuse, but Mr Isely said: "It's pretty clear that the commission and this mechanism has failed, it has simply failed."

Peter Saunders described himself as a survivor of clergy abuse at the hands of two Jesuit priests at his school in London.

"One of the things that drives me is that one of my two brothers went to the same school as I went to and he was also abused six years before me by the same priest who abused me," he said.

Mr Saunders said he subsequently found out the same priest had abused hundreds of boys.

He added: "I survived, I sometimes think of myself as a thriver at times... but my brother Michael didn't survive.

"The drugs and alcohol that consumed him even before he left school eventually took his life."

"For every 10 survivors who survive and thrive and go on to lead something of a normal life, there are survivors who did not survive," he said,

"There are victims who did not survive and went to an early grave because of what happened to them."

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