Society had an obligation to remove any threat to the safety of the young and vulnerable, the Administrator of St. Eunan’s Cathedral in Letterkenny Fr. Eamonn Kelly told congregations at masses last weekend.
Welcoming the publication of the report into the handling of abuse by church and state in the Diocese of Cloyne, he said when people who should protect the child did not, they had to take action.
“The disgust of hurting a child is beyond words. It is a crime to rob innocence and to hurt the little ones. As adults we must provide a safe place for all children, in our church, in the school, in our places of recreation, in our home and in all areas of society, public and private. It is our duty. It is our responsibility. In this responsibility we must all be accountable.
“And if things go wrong and someone does offer a threat to the safety of the young and weak in our society we have a liability and an obligation to take that threat away from the young and the vulnerable. When people who should protect the child do not we must take action and I welcome the publication of the commission’s report into the handling of complaints of abuse by church and state in Clyone. Indeed I welcome any publication that highlights mishandling, wrongdoing, bad practice or bad care,” Fr. Kelly insisted.
In the parish of Conwal and Leck, in and around the Cathedral itself, in the schools of the parish and in the overall management of the parish there were, he pointed out, policies in place that protected all members of the parish community and all people that they came into contact with. A poster on the notice board at the Cathedral offered details of contact people if anyone had a concern for the protection of a child or a young adult. “There are details of contact people in the Gardaí and in the Health Service Executive and I invite you to use these contacts if you ever see that it is necessary,” the local cleric maintained.
The Diocesan Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Young People office is located in the Raphoe Diocesan Pastoral Centre just across the road from the Cathedral, he added. “They have and continue to provide training for church personnel so that best practice is implemented, including Garda vetting, setting up our Safeguarding committee, trying to increase awareness of safeguarding children and vulnerable young people issues, keeping of records and in general providing a safe environment for every child.
“The protection of children is important and I invite you to be aware of school, church and state policies and the structures that are in place so that we may be able to provide a safe place for all people to worship, to grow and to develop into a society we can be proud of. It is important that people be continually vigilant so that we may learn from the mistakes and never be complacent,” Fr. Kelly declared.
He added: “These are tough times to be Catholic and challenging. But they are also times when we can make a difference. These are times when we are challenged to be more than a silent partner in the work of the Church and in the proclamation of the message of Christ. These are times that have been thrust upon us. These days we are called on to stand up, to protect, to learn and to grow.”