Armstrong: The Pope could and should have gone further to address victims

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has said while it was “disappointing” the Pope did not go further in his comments around clerical and institutional abuse, he offered hope for the future in the strong words he shared on peace and reconciliation during his visit to Ireland.

Kellie was speaking after deputising for Naomi Long at the Address by the Pope in Dublin Castle as he began his two day visit to Ireland.

She said: “For far too long cries for help have been unheard and today the Pope had the opportunity to recognise the victims and survivors of this abuse and let them know they have been heard. While he confirmed clerical abuse should never happen again, many will see it as a lost opportunity to begin righting the so many wrongs that have gone before. Victims and survivors need to be heard and their wounds healed by the Church. Words must be followed up by deeds and there was no clear comment how the Vatican will meet the needs of victims and survivors.

“I was impressed to hear Leo Varadkar speak about the shared history between the Catholic Church and Irish State. There was clear understanding by the Taoiseach of the need to heal the wounds of the past and he challenged the Catholic Church to right many wrongs. Mr Varadkar confirmed Ireland has become a more inclusive family that welcomed same sex marriage and is enabling women to have a choice. He confirmed that Irish family includes many faithful Catholics who are equally part of this diverse and inclusive society.

“The Taoiseach and Pope both recognised the need for the Good Friday Agreement to be preserved as a key tool in the continued fight for peace and reconciliation. Both recognised the political impasse threatens the two decades of peace Northern Ireland has enjoyed.

“Yet while these words do bring hope, action is now needed to ensure progress is made – both in Ireland and in Northern Ireland where political stalemate continues to divide communities.

“My final disappointment comes in who didn’t attend – the DUP. All other political parties from Northern Ireland were represented. The Secretary of State was also in attendance. While we all heard the message for peace for the future, the DUP chose not to be represented. That speaks volumes about how the DUP can respect difference and diversity. The DUP played to their increasingly small core voter base ignoring the opportunity to showcase to the rest of the Parties, to both governments and to a global audience that they can represent more than their shrinking base.”

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