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MSP: Church must say sorry

By Marion Scott, Sunday Mail 05/12/04

A SENIOR Catholic politician yesterday accused his church of ignoring victims of abuse.

First minister Jack McConnell made a full apology to victims of abuse in Scots care homes last Wednesday.

The issue of physical and sexual abuse was debated at Holyrood after being raised by sufferers through the public petitions committee.

But chairman of the committee Michael McMahon MSP, says senior churchmen have failed survivors.

He said: "The Church seem intent on passing the buck when they should be saying sorry loud and clear.

"The apology they made was for a specific case in a particular diocese. They need to make a proper apology on behalf of all the orders who looked after children." In Care Abuse Survivors' Chris Daly added: "We'll ask the committee to call the Catholic Church to Parliament to explain themselves."

Education Minister Peter Peacock pledged an inquiry last week but stopped short of a full public inquiry into abuse.

But there will be a review of outdated timebar laws which have prevented damages claims on cases before 1964.

The Catholic Church in Scotland insist Cardinal Keith O'Brien apologised to victims in December 2001 after a priest, Father Steve Gilhooley, wrote a book describing abuse in an English seminary. Cardinal O'Brien said: "I apologise unreservedly to Father Steve Gilhooley and others who, over the years, suffered any form of abuse at the hands of those representing the Catholic Church."

A Church spokesman said: "What Cardinal O'Brien said and the sentiments expressed three years ago stand.

Since the Church have never run, directed or controlled any care homes, we do not have a view on whether or not there should be a public inquiry.

"Over the past 30 years, there have existed about 200 care homes in Scotland - about 150 run by local authorities and 50 by churches, charities, voluntary bodies, of which less than 10 were run by Catholic organisations."

The Catholic diocese of Orange County, near LA, yesterday agreed to pay compensation to 87 people abused by churchmen. The payout is likely to top £55 million.

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