Right Of Place Second Chance response to the Paper Towards Healing and Renewal


It is important to understand that this paper is not a conclusive response to the document Towards Healing and Renewal, however it is a view based on the needs of survivors of institutional abuse, and in particular the views of Right of Place Second Chance survivors and their families. Uppermost in our minds is the necessity to alleviate the distress of financial worry and social isolation of survivors. In the past number of years, many survivors and our members have experienced new and unexpected challenges, which need our support, and assistance. Right of Place Second Chance focus is based on the needs and issues, which, continue to affect the lives of our members on an ongoing basis. It is important to acknowledge that many of our members who left these institutions, in many cases, did so with limited education and no skills. I do not need to elaborate on the consequences of this history except to say that the institutions of Prisons, Mental Health Hospitals, Graveyards, and the streets were places to which many survivors fell hostage to, resulting from the abuse suffered as children.

It is shocking that as children they should have experienced this kind of abuse, especially while in the care of Religious Orders. So, our initial response is to welcome the steps taken in this paper to once again acknowledge the hurt and pain and lack of response to the plight of survivors when it was most needed. Clearly, there is a need for further counselling funding provided to Faoiseamh and the expanded responses to support this service. This response is of some benefit to some survivors. Right of Place Second Chance would like to now respond to some of the key points in this document.

  1. We realise that this is a document that tries to embrace too many groups; a kind of one pill to cure all ills. This we believe is a weakness in your document.
  2. For example, the statement that “.....what is set out in this document here today represents only part of a longer journey to be undertaken by the Church in bringing healing and peace to survivors of abuse.....” What does this mean for survivors and their families? To the Bishops Conference we say that our journey has been long enough, too long.
  3. Right of Place Second Chance believes that a date for the completion of meaningful negotiations that seeks to respond to the needs of survivors on a priority basis must begin immediately.
  4. It has been two years since the publication of the Ryan Report, and eleven years since it first started its investigations. Many of our members have died in abject poverty, shame, and on a journey with no end since then. For many more, our time is limited.
  5. Each group in this document, e.g. parents, young people, priests, survivors of institutional abuse, and those abused by the clergy all have their own unique pain, anger, and issues to be resolved, and need a separate focus in the process of their healing and renewal.
  6. It is important to note once again at this point that Right of Place Second Chance represents only our members who are representative of a wide group of believers and non-believers. So, with this in mind we would now like to make some comments on the six steps in your document Towards Healing and Renewal.

Step One; Prayer for the survivors of abuse

Right of Place Second Chance recognises that many of our members and survivors have held on to their faith and we recognise that prayer has been and continues to be a support in their lives. For them we welcome the commitment of this document to their spiritual needs.

Right of Place Second Chance also represents survivors, who have no faith, religion, or belief; who do not want prayer, so this step offers him or her nothing except further pain and anger.

Step Two; Listening with sensitivity and care

We welcome the acknowledgement, once again, that the Church “...failed to listen to the distressing cries of those who were abused as children....” We further welcome the invitation to priests, religious, and parish communities to bring their social, pastoral, spiritual and liturgical resources, and practical care to help in the process of healing for those who have been abused – and their families.

We must point out that there are a sizeable group of survivors who will not engage with this process until some kind of meaningful attempt is made to address their immediate needs.

Step Three; Spiritual support to individual survivors of abuse

This step has no relevance whatsoever to survivors who are not of the Church. Consequently, it only contributes to their sense of alienation in this process.

Step Four; Creating a Safer Future for the children in the Church

All steps taken to create a safer future for children are very welcome.

Step Five; The review of Dioceses, religious Congregations and societies by the National Board for Safe guarding Children

This review is welcomed and it demonstrates a commitment to the a normal process in an understanding of the standards required by any group involved in the day to day contact with children and the vulnerable in our society.

Step Six; Financial Support for future safeguarding and care

We believe that this step is the weakest of all the six steps outlined in your document Towards Healing and Renewal As we identified in our preamble the priority needs of survivors now is to alleviate the distress of financial worry and social isolation. Consequently concentrating on a plan for the next five years solely on counselling does not address the current realities facing survivors in the new changed economic and social reality.

There is a need for counselling for some survivors. It would also be an accurate reflection of the attitude of survivors that the majority do not want counselling now or in the future. Survivors are in the main in their forties, fifties, sixties, and older who are struggling with their health, financial hardship, and social isolation. These are the main areas of concern for survivors and this document does not address these issues with any degree of understanding. The notion of counselling as a priority is misplaced.

Right of Place Second Chance respectfully makes the following recommendations in response to your document Toward Healing and Renewal.

  • Target the groups you wish to, support, help, and bring healing and renewal to. Each group will need different levels and kinds of help. This will enable clarity of purpose and relevancy of administration in support for each targeted group.
  • Set up a task force to include survivor leaders for the conclusion of a negotiated engagement with survivors of industrial abuse.
  • Reconsider the commitment towards financial support in your five year plan for counselling services
  • Identify the real and pressing needs of survivors of industrial abuse.
  • Fund the identified needs of survivors with a five-year financial package.

This paper does not purport to offer a full and comprehensive response to the supports and needs of all survivors but it tries to identify some of the steps that can be taken in order to reach a qualified agreement that reflects our member’s needs in the economic, social and health care demands of to-day.

Right of Place Second Chance takes this opportunity of thanking the Bishops Conference for their considered document Toward Healing and Renewal. We hope that our response acts as a further step in all our efforts to bring healing and peace to all affected groups in this process.

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