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(Prepared remarks Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley delivered at St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin Nov. 14 on the start of his Apostolic Visitation to the Archdiocese of Dublin)
I am very grateful to the Archbishop for his gracious invitation to participate in this Eucharist celebrated at St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral, commemorating the feast of your founding bishop, St. Laurence O'Toole.
My first visit to this beautiful church was as a young seminarian in 1963. I was in Dublin at the time of the visit of John F. Kennedy to Ireland. I am honored to be here again, this time representing our Holy Father Pope Benedict as Apostolic Visitator to this great and historic Archdiocese.
My family left these shores for America in the difficult decades after the Famine, the Reidys from County Clare and the O'Malleys from Mayo. My mother's family came first, it was an arduous voyage from Ireland to Montreal. The only vestiges of that journey that our family still treasures are a two volume History of Ireland by the Abbe MacGeoghegan and a beautiful statue of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that accompanied our ancestors in that crossing. What they did not leave behind was their Catholic faith and their great love for Ireland. I was raised with both.
And it is with that same love for the Irish people that I come to this Visitation. I have come to listen, not to offer a quick fix. I come to listen to your pain, your anger, but also your hopes and aspirations.
Pope Benedict in his letter to the Church in Ireland this past March expressed his deep sorrow and regret over the sexual abuse of children perpetrated by priests and religious and over the inadequate way in which such cases were often responded to in the past. The Holy Father envisions this as a pastoral visit to assist the Church here on the path to renewal.
In Dublin much has been done already to address the crimes of the past and to develop sound policies to ensure the safety of children and to provide assistance to the victims of child abuse. The task of the Visitation is to bring new eyes to the situation, to verify the effectiveness of the present processes used in responding to cases of abuse. We are not here to reduplicate investigations or studies of the past.
We are here to be available to meet with some of those who have been harmed by abuse and wish to meet with us. We will attempt to communicate to them the apologies of a contrite Church and the pastoral solicitude of the Holy Father. Likewise, we will try to assess how well the guidelines of Safeguarding Children, produced by the National Board, are working.
We look forward to meeting with as many as possible from the victims themselves, the bishops, the priests and religious and the laity of the Archdiocese, knowing that the crisis of the sexual abuse of minors has profound repercussions in the life of the entire community.
Because the viewpoint of the clergy and laity are so crucial, I have asked Ms. Barbara Thorp, Fr. John Connolly and Mr. Thomas Hannigan to accompany me and assist in this Visitation. They have been invaluable collaborators in Boston, and I am certain their experience will be very helpful to me during this Visitation.
Anyone who wishes to share their testimony can contact me through the Apostolic Nunciature here in Dublin, to request an appointment, or submit their thoughts in written form, also through the Nunciature.
I shall return early next year to continue this important work. Please pray that this Visitation will be helpful to the people of Ireland, will advance the safety of children in society as a whole and promote the healing and reconciliation that we all desire.