Bishop Brendan Leahy has issued his "deepest apologies" to the victim and his family
The Bishop of Limerick has apologised to a man who was sexually abused by a priest who was working in the Diocese of Limerick at the time.
The priest, who can't be named for legal reasons in order to protect the identity of the victim, was sentenced to three years' imprisonment this Monday following his conviction, by a jury, of nine charges of sexual assault and gross indecency.
The victim was aged 12 or 13 when the abuse first started more than 20 years ago - read court report here.
In a statement, issued following the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, Bishop Brendan Leahy said: "My thoughts first and foremost are with the victim in this case. I want to acknowledge the enormous pain that he has had to endure and, no doubt, the trial itself and all that led up to it deepened the hurt. It’s not just a huge trauma for him as he had to relive during this trial the dreadful experiences and the grave breach of trust inflicted, but I am also very conscious of the impact on his family. On behalf of the diocese of Limerick, I want to extend my deepest apologies to them for what they have all gone through but, of course, primarily to the man himself who has been abused, for whom no words of mine can repair the damage. I want to acknowledge also his courage in coming forward, which is something that is not easy to do."
Bishop Leahy added that the "betrayal of a sacred trust" by the priest has also caused great distress to the wider community.
"Sexual abuse by members of the clergy has brought great shame on the Church and impacts deeply on all who seek to live God’s Word. But we must continue to live that Word. In doing so, we must do all we can to help heal the wounds, rebuild the trust of all impacted by abuse and do everything possible to ensure that abuse such as this does not happen again,” he said.
The bishop concluded his statement by asking that anyone who has been abused and who hasn’t come forward to do so. They are urged to contact the statutory services and to be assured that the Diocesan Safeguarding Service and the support that goes with it is also available to them and can be contacted at 087 3233564.