Some of you know that I have been involved and trusted in cases of abuse in the Catholic Church over a number of years. Only those directly concerned know what I have tried to do, always knowing they had my support.
Its impact is irresistible. In front of some of those who had tried to minimise or even ignore what they did not want to acknowledge, Maggie Matthews told them and us of their failures saying:
“I’ve been invited to say some words about the ribbons that have been presented to Bishop Stephen. The ribbons – they represent people, real people desperately hurt by abuse within the church, many of them abused by priests or religious. Many of those people roar with anger and hurt, unable to enter our church today. Many utterly at a loss because they have clear eyes and they see the systemic nature of abuse in our church. They see the structures that lead to abuse. They see the damage that excessive deference and the fear of speaking continues to cause. People are exasperated with a leadership when it continues to let them down so badly. A leadership when it fails to provide the mechanisms for the transparency and accountability needed to make our church a safer place . . .”
[Maggie’s full text can be downloaded from https://www.rootandbranchsynod.org/stolen-lives]
Our bishops had been subservient to authorities in Rome and had not served the suffering Mystical Body of Christ. She was free to tell the truth and we can celebrate the new bishop for having the courage to leave Maggie free and Maggie for having the courage to speak freely.
Those who have suffered heard her speak for them. Those in authority who had not the courage to listen to abused children, women and men, heard judgement on their failure. So did we. Bishop Stephen Wright thanked her for her courage and then showed his own. He thanked her for her direct speaking of the bishops’ failures and promised there would be no such failure in Hexham and Newcastle.
There is no hiding-place for those who ignored or minimised the sufferings of the abused. In front of all of us she and he told our bishops of their failure. The truth is known, not hidden now. How shall we bring healing?
When my sisters and brothers are abused and ignored, I am involved. So are we all. Prayer and be involved.
God bless you,
Rev Fr John
(30th July 2023)