According to Wikipedia, catholic means, "including a wide variety of things; all-embracing". This is certainly not the experience we are used to, as lawyers, in closely fought, and contentious child abuse compensation litigation. One of our Group Actions, is just settling after 15 years of hard fought, narrow, technical, frustrating litigation, where the wearing down technique has been used on our clients by the insurers of the Catholic Church. By the time they are offered a pittance to go away, they are so fed up that they will take anything.
One of my clients was sweet enough to want to hug us, bring us some sweets, and be very effusive of his praise, so relieved was he for it all to be over. Such a reaction is not typical of the way in which our clients feel. Some cases are still going on after all this time, as the insurer solicitors continue to battle with us.
I was roused to write this blog after reading Graham Wilmer's article in the Guardian last Friday. I know all the survivor group representatives referred to. I have discussed the process with Graham, and understand entirely the frustration he must feel.
One part of the package - counselling and support is no good in isolation. Religious platitudes are admirable, but not to a victim, who has lost faith, understandably, in religion.
There is a glaring conflict of interest, when the organisation who "employed" the abuser, also tries to offer support. All trust has gone, and anger bubbles under the surface of the victim. It is like trying to put a sticking plaster on a ball of fire. Attempt it at thy peril.
One can imagine a pseudo confession when the priest attempts to forgive the victim's sins at the same time as trying to sooth the anger of him/her being abused by a priest. I would like to be a fly on the wall when it is attempted. I would not like to be the priest.
So should they have walked out of the talks as reported in the linked article above? Well one group left in disgust, and another didn't. So who was right? Well if the talks prove as fruitless as forecast by the Lantern Project and MACSAS then they were absolutely right, not to have wasted any more time. If, on the other hand, NAPAC, under the admirable leadership of Peter Saunders, succeed, then one has to admire their pertinacity.
If, however, the Catholic Church agree to, not only support the victim spiritually, but also provide a no fault compensation scheme, then may I say publicly that I will run naked up and down our local catholic church aisle during Sunday Service......it might be wise to say that I will do this on a without prejudice basis...that is the legal way of saying I am too old for such silliness...