Irish Bishop recalls 25 years of support service for victims of abuse

Over 25 years, over 7,000 abuse victims have been helped by “Towards Healing,” the Irish Bishops’ service for counseling and support.

By Vatican News staff reporter

“Towards Healing” is the name of the counseling and support service for victims of abuse committed by members of the clergy, funded by the Irish Bishops’ Conference and the National Association of Religious and Missionaries.

Active since 1996, the organization has provided help to 7 thousand people. Its work was recalled on Sunday, May 30, Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, by its director and auxiliary bishop of Armagh, Bishop Michael Router, on the occasion of the diocesan pilgrimage to the International Marian Shrine at Knock.

“We live in a world where human weakness and frailty erode the Christian ideal of human relationships,” said the Bishop. “The Church itself, the family of God, is very much aware that it has sadly failed in its responsibility to provide a safe haven or to protect its own members. In fact, instead of reflecting the love that is at the heart of the Trinity, it has at times failed to live up to the values it represents and professes.”

“We are all too aware,” recalled Bishop Router, “that many people in Ireland and abroad have suffered sexual and physical abuse at the hands of clergy and religious. For too long they have suffered in solitude, without being heard, recognized or helped.” 

Towards Healing

Over the past twenty-five years, however, through “Towards Healing,” the Church “has provided a counseling service that has benefited almost 7,000 people.” It is, the Bishop explained, “a free service, available to survivors, that is based on the values of compassion, responsibility and hope.”

“Towards Healing,” in fact, provides “the support needed to empower survivors to recover and rebuild their lives; it gives them hope to find healing and develop resilience to live life as fully as possible.”

Any family that strives to provide compassion and hope to its members is a reflection of the work of the Trinity in daily life, he added. “A Church without compassion only hurts and alienates people and robs them of confidence and hope.”

In conclusion, Bishop Router appealed for the Irish Church “to draw closer to the image of the Triune God and to give life to that dialogue, that openness and that love that will help it heal from the wounds of the past and move forward together in hope.”