Wednesday 23 October 2019

It was a father's letter

THE POPE'S pastoral letter was 'written as a fellow pilgrim and a father,' according to Fr Gerry O'Leary.

Fr O'Leary, who is parish priest in Horeswood and chairman of the committee for the safeguarding of children in the Diocese of Ferns, felt that it was 'a very good letter'.

In fact, Fr O'Leary said that he didn't like the summary of the letter distributed to the parishes and read out in many churches in Co Wexford, as it did not fully convey the Pope's message.

'There was a summary given for the priests, but I didn't like it. The letter itself was much better so I read the full version and also made the full version of it available in the newsletter.' he said.

He was impressed not only with its content, but in the manner in which it was written, and said that he was left in no doubt that Pope Benedict XVI's apology was a heartfelt one.

'The Pope has a tremendous ability to write in simple language that speaks to ordinary people like me and you,' said Fr O'Leary.

'That letter was written as a fellow pilgrim and a father. I could sense his dismay at what had happened here. I asked the parishioners to go read it with an open heart.'

Fr O'Leary also said the letter came at a good time in Ferns as the diocese continues to try to 'put things right' after – in the Pope's words – abusive priests had brought shame, dishonour and damage to the Church.

Fr O'Leary said that the Pope's letter reinforces the work that he is leading on the safeguarding of children here 'as we continue to ensure that all the proper procedures and policies are in place'.

Fr O'Leary said that everyone wants to make sure that abuse of a child by a priest never happens again in Co Wexford, but if it does and becomes known to the Church, that the mistakes of the past will not now be repeated, due to the work of recent years by his committee and others within the Church.

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