5 Nov 2010

Popular Irish priest urges Catholic church to suspend priest recruitment until clergy abuse properly addressed

Sunday Tribune - Ireland August 23, 2009

'No more new priests until abuse addressed'

by Suzanne Breen in Paris

One of Ireland's best-known priests has called on the Catholic church to halt recruitment to the priesthood until it has properly addressed the issue of clerical child abuse.

Fr Aidan Troy accused the church of "a wholly inadequate response to the horrendous abuse that has been uncovered". He said the hierarchy must "take radical action rather than engage in window dressing". The church here should ask the pope to visit Ireland to publicly apologise for the destruction of children's lives, he said.

Troy came to prominence as parish priest of Holy Cross in north Belfast. For three months, he walked with the Ardoyne school children and their parents past a violent loyalist protest.

Troy wanted to stay in Belfast but was controversially moved to Paris last year. "I'm ashamed by the church's response to the Ryan report. It has been more about improving the church's image than tackling fundamental problems," he said.

"In the 1970s, I was sent around schools to recruit pupils to the priesthood. I couldn't do that now. Back then, parents were delighted if their sons chose to become priests. Now, most would understandably oppose it and try to talk them out of it."

Troy said the church couldn't continue as before because trust had been shattered: "The church must halt recruitment, reform and reorganise, then begin again. Instead, it says 'this abuse is awful' but continues its old failed ways. We have a broken, wounded church and those wounds are self-inflicted."

Troy also questioned the way priests are moved from parishes: "I received a phone call saying I was out of Ardoyne. That was it. The procedure was hardly sensitive or democratic."

Troy was saddened but not surprised by recent rioting in Ardoyne where there is a rising dissident presence: "The area, like many others, has seen no peace dividend in terms of jobs, housing or education. It has been let down."

He called for dialogue with dissidents: "Somebody needs to point out the absolute error of their ways to them, but to talk to them with respect."

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