From Whispers in the Loggia we find the text of a homily, “In Dublin, the Three Silences” by the Archbishop of Dublin addressing the weakness of words to fully understand, appreciate, and relate to the clerical abuse in the home country. A very good, direct and honest offer of apology from His Grace, one that should be a required and regular pronouncement in all the parishes of our Church.
There are moments where silence and listening are more important than words and what we say.
What can I say to you who are victims of sexual abuse by priests of the Archdiocese of Dublin or by religious? I would not be honest and sincere if I were to say that I know what you have suffered.
I may try to understand, but that suffering is yours. Only you know what it means to have been abused sexually or in some other way. I can try to imagine the horrors of being abused when just a child, helpless and innocent. I can try to imagine how this abuse has haunted your life until today and sadly may continue even for the rest of your lives.
I can recognise the humiliation you suffered, the assault on your dignity and self-esteem, the fear and anxiety, the isolation and abandonment you experienced. I can listen to you tell me about your nightmares, your frustrations and your longing for a closure which may never come. I can imagine your anger at not being believed and of seeing others being cared for while you were left on your own.
I can try to imagine all those experiences but I know that it is only you who have had that experience.
Whatever I imagine, what you experienced must be a thousand times worse.I can express my sorrow, my sense of the wrong that was done to you. I think of how you were not heard or not believed and not comforted and supported.
I can ask myself how did this happen in the Church of Jesus Christ where as we heard in the Gospel children are presented to us as signs of the kingdom. How did we not see you in your suffering and abandonment?
The Church of Jesus Christ in this Archdiocese [of] Dublin has been wounded by the sins of abusers and by the response to you for which we all share responsibility.
Someone once reminded me of the difference between on the one hand apologising or saying sorry and on the other hand asking forgiveness. I can bump into someone on the street and say “Sorry”. It can be meaningful or just an empty formula. When I say sorry I am in charge. When I ask forgiveness however I am no longer in charge, I am in the hands of the others. Only you can forgive me; only God can forgive me.
I, as Archbishop of Dublin and as Diarmuid Martin, stand here in this silence and I ask forgiveness of God and I ask for the first steps of forgiveness from of all the survivors of abuse.
Hat Tip to Whispers in the Loggia, a regularly visited blog!
- “Guide Us, Lord. Amen.” (whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com)