A COUNTY Limerick priest is extending a helping hand to his traumatised colleagues who have been falsely accused of sexually abusing children.
Caherconlish parish priest Fr Roy Donovan, who is spokesman for the 1,000 member Association of Catholic Priests (ACP), said that they are offering group therapy sessions to help innocent churchmen who have been affected by abuse scandals.
Fr Donovan said the purpose of the ‘circle of healing’ workshops is to not only ‘help heal the scars’ of clergymen cleared of allegations, but also to provide support to clerics who feel traumatised over crimes committed by ‘the small minority of paedophiles’ in their fold.
“A lot of good, decent priests have been affected by the abuse carried out by other priests in the past. They’ve been traumatised and left with a sense of shame over what’s happened, and that’s partly why we’re holding a circle of healing.
“We’re holding the first one in Cork later this month, and it follows a demand from our members. There’ll be 20 priests attending the first session and it will run for two hours. It will be very much like a group therapy session.
The APC has been advocating radical reform in the Church including the relaxation of celibacy rules and the ordination of women priests.
Speaking ahead of the associations AGM in Athlone this week, Fr Donovan voiced his concern over the ever-worsening vocations crisis, which hit a low point in recent weeks when it was revealed that just six men had begun training for the priesthood this year at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth.
That’s the lowest enrolment since the foundation of the national seminary in 1795.
“I fear that if things stay as they are, and if no reforms are introduced, we will start to become an endangered species,” Fr Donovan said.