11 Jul 2008
Suffer the little children – and suffer we did
Press release: CLAN 10 July 2008
An apology by the Pope is essential for all care survivors raised in Australia’s 114 Catholic Orphanages, the national care survivor support and advocacy body, CLAN, said today.
‘CLAN joins with Broken Rites and The Esther Centre in calling for a heartfelt and meaningful apology by the pontiff for the abuse perpetrated by Catholic priests, nuns, brothers, lay workers and church employees’, said CLAN President Leonie Sheedy.
Ms Sheedy stressed that it is not only sexual abuse which is the issue. In its eight years of existence CLAN has supported and assisted many thousands of Australians who suffered neglect, cruelty, physical assault, slave labour, and emotional and psychological damage during their time in Catholic institutional care. While CLAN acknowledges that some carers tried to do their best for children, the majority, said Ms Sheedy, were part of an institutional ‘care’ system which abused children on a daily basis.
‘Children had their names changed and were called by numbers, were separated from their brothers and sisters and families, some left their Home illiterate, some were denied an education and worked for no wages in laundries, kitchens and on farms, and provided the free labour essential to keep the institutions running’, she said. ‘We were called no-hopers, guttersnipers, that our parents were dead or if alive didn’t love us or want us. We were made to feel hopeless, useless and worthless and told we would never amount to anything. Those who survived lost their trust in humanity and, for many, their faith in the Catholic church. The legacy of this childhood continues to affect not only survivors, but their children and families and society at large.’
Despite the evidence of numerous inquiries, state and federal, the Catholic church continues to deny and to hide its shameful role in the child welfare history of Australia, said Ms Sheedy: ‘We hope that the Pope will take the opportunity while he is a guest in our country, to show leadership and the true values of Christianity by humbly and sincerely issuing this Apology, to enable the healing to begin.’
For more information, call Leonie Sheedy on 0425 204 747 and go to www.clan.org.au