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FORGIVE YOUR ABUSERS; Priest calls on sex victims to pardon pervs.

Byline: By BRENDAN FURLONG and KELLY ALLEN

A SENIOR priest yesterday asked clerical sex abuse victims to FORGIVE their abusers.

Parish priest Bill Cosgrave said clemency is the "only way" to achieve reconciliation.

But victims said they want justice before they can forgive their tormentors.

Fr Cosgrave, who is based in Monageer, Co Wexford, said: "Forgiveness is as necessary for reconciliation as repentance is, since both are essential elements of true reconciliation."

The Ferns Report revealed the sexual assault of 10 girls from Monageer by then parish priest Fr James Grennan while they prepared for their Confirmation. However Fr Cosgrave criticised the Bishop's document Our Church, Our Children for its failure to mention the need for victims to forgive those in authority who mishandled cases.

He said: "One has to characterise this grave omission as surprising, disappointing and even scandalous in the Church of Christ."

But John Kelly of the Irish Survivors of Child Abuse group said: "Before we can have forgiveness, we need justice, atonement and acknowledgement."

And Pat Jackman, a victim of one of Ireland's worst paedophile priests, Fr Sean Fortune, said victims should be allowed to forgive in their own time.

He added: "During the process that abuse victims go through themselves, they feel anger towards their perpetrators.

"It's not particularly helpful for abuse victims to be told to forgive but they have to come to that point themselves."

Fr Cosgrave also called on the church to establish "a standard of proof" when considering allegations of abuse against priests.

Three things, he said, were needed - responsibility from the Church for the role its structure played in contributing to abuse, forgiveness from the victims and justice for the priests under investigation. Fr Cosgrave added: "Ministers of the church are shaped not just by the teaching but also by the structures, organisation, roles, attitudes and practices which they live with and operated in the Christian Community."

"One accusation could be made and the accuser walks away but the priest feels like he is excluded by the Bishop and left in limbo."

To remedy this he proposes a "standard of proof" be reached in coming to conclusions, priests should have the right to a process examining the facts, a thorough and prompt investigation, a trial independent of the bishop and the right to an appeals process.

Irish Mirror Comment: Page 6

news@irishmirror.ie

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PLEA: Fr Cosgrave said priest should be forgiven' ANGER: Pat Jackman said victims need time and, right, Fr Grennan
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Apr 14, 2006
Words:415
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