By Shane Hickey
Monday November 30 2009
IT was a day for reflection, prayer and apologies.
As the full impact of the damning report into child sexual abuse in Dublin sank in, thousands of parishioners around the capital attended Mass for the first time since the grim details became public.
Some 300 people filed into St Mary's Pro-Cathedral where they heard Fr Damian O'Reilly express his "own personal apology, my sorrow and my shame" for what had happened to the abused children.
"We have been let down, they have been let down and hurt by the actions of those who caused them such hurt and pain. And let down and hurt when their story was not heard and covered up," Fr O'Reilly told the Mass on the first Sunday of Advent.
"In prayer and in reflection, humility or realisation of our total need for God in our lives leads us to truth.
"When we allow pride, arrogance or self-indulgence in our lives, it leads to lies, cover-up and dishonesty.
"Such people as Marie Collins, Andrew Madden and all the many victims and their families who have suffered so greatly have played an enormous role in bringing the truth to light. I say sorry to all those who have been hurt and who have suffered so greatly."
In some instances, the shame that had been heaped onto the Church had been extended to the parishioners, he said.
"I spoke to a very dear parishioner before Mass and she said to me, 'When I woke this morning, I asked myself, why would I get out of bed on this most awful, cold, winter morning to come to church in the light of the most awful news this week'," Fr O'Reilly said.
However, many of those who attended the Latin Mass yesterday said their faith in God remained absolute, although their belief in the church hierarchy had been shaken.
"It hasn't changed my faith. It is just tragic that the whole situation hasn't been resolved. It is a painful experience," Pawel Tomal from Poland said.
"My faith is based on Jesus, not on the Church hierarchy, so it helps to have good priests and leadership but we are all weak, we all have problems."
Anthony Dunphy from Kilkenny said there was a general sense of shock at what had transpired but that the problems were more widespread.
"There are abuses rampant throughout all of society.
"About 1pc of abuses are done by priests. That means that 99pc of abuses are done by the rest of the population."
- Shane Hickey