WITH all due respect to Ms Garside (CL 17/3/02), when Fr Kevin Ryan gave his examples of the kind of abuse where victims could move on he was contrasting that kind of abuse with sexual abuse which is a much harder issue to deal with because of its all encompassing nature and the spiritual damage it causes.
Ms Garside appears to be unaware that the Churches she criticises are already providing processes to deal with cases of abuse of whatever kind there may have been, including sexual abuse.
There are already official complaint procedures in place in the Catholic Church and they have been there for some years now. While they may not yet be perfect and are still in the process of working out the most effective procedures, they are there.
The Towards Healing process in the Catholic Church does provide what Ms Garside perceives to be lacking, such as a fair and impartial investigation of abuse, a structure that does give credibility to the victims and provides a safe environment for the victims to make their complaint against personnel in the Church who have abused them.
There is a contact person who can deal with such complaints. There is a help line number if you wish to speak in confidence with someone or make an official complaint. You then are directed to the contact person nearest you.
I can assure Ms Garside from personal experience that this system does give what it promises by way of privacy, confidentiality and support for victims of abuse.
The climate in which such abuse can take place is changing dramatically with such documents as Integrity in Ministry which gives explicit guidelines as to pastoral behaviour and is designed to limit the possibility of such abuse occurring.
It is time to move on and support what is already in place rather than rehash the old issues of power and dominance.
The Churches, as befits Christian bodies, are doing just what Fr Ryan suggests.
They are leading the way in their recognition of this problem and the steps they are taking to deal with it.
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