Canadian Archbishop Thomas C. Collins of Toronto CNS photo/Paul Haring

Collins pulls no punches at start of Irish visitation

By 
  • January 17, 2011

Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins' apostolic visit to the Irish archdiocese of Cashel and Emly started off with a reality check on the harm done by priests who abuse their position of trust for sex.

"Even one priest gone wrong causes immense harm, and throughout the world priests have done unspeakable evil," Collins told a penitential service at Thurles Cathedral in County Tipperary on Jan. 16.

Collins' visit is in the wake of the sexual abuse scandal that came to light in the Irish Church. It was mandated by Pope Benedict XVI last March.


 

 

The Belfast Telegraph reports that Collins warned the congregation against a defensive reaction to reports of sexual abuse in the Church.

"We cannot escape the horror of this by pointing out that the great majority of priests serve faithfully, with integrity and compassion," Collins said.

As he has frequently in Toronto, Collins urged the Irish to be thankful for the work of journalists who brought the scandals of sexual abuse to light.

"What does the most persistent journalist who reports priestly evil-doing have in common with St. John Vianney, the holy Curé of Ars, patron of parish priests? They both expect priests to be holy," said Collins, according to The Irish Times.

Collins has brought Joan Breech with him to Ireland to aid his investigation of the Church in Cashel and Emly. Breech was a member of an archdiocese of Toronto committee which over the summer updated Toronto's Church law for cases of sexual abuse. Fr. Edward Curtis is also with Collins on the trip, which is expected to last through the end of January.

"The crimes themselves, and the failure of Church authorities to respond adequately to them, are both great scandals," said Collins. "We recognize the courage of the victims and their families who came forward and shone the cleansing light of truth on their suffering."

Collins will be meeting with victims during his time in Ireland.

There are seven apostolic visitation teams travelling to Ireland with a mandate from Pope Benedict XVI to report on the history of abuse and Church cover-ups. Reports are due in Rome by Easter.

Ottawa Archbishop Terry Prendergast accomplished the first half of his visitation to the archdiocese of Tuam Dec. 13 to 17. He will be back in Tuam March 5 to 11. He is assisted in his investigation by a fellow Jesuit, Gregorian University and Boston College professor of canon law Fr. James Conn.

The other visitations include:

- Cardinal Cormac Murphy O'Connor visiting Armagh archdiocese.

- Boston Archbishop Cardinal Sean O'Malley visiting Dublin archdiocese.

- New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan visiting Irish seminaries.

- Vincentian superior general Fr. Robert Maloney and Jesuit Father Gero McLoughlin visiting male religious congregations.

- Immaculate Heart of Mary Sr. Sharon Holland and Religious of Jesus and Mary Sr. Mairin McDonagh visiting female religious orders.

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