Jesuits welcome ‘Restorative Response’ report

August 23, 2023 in Featured News, News

REPORT: A Restorative Response to the Abuse of Children Perpetrated by Joseph Marmion SJ »

The Irish Jesuit Order has welcomed the publication of a report arising from the restorative justice processes initiated after the naming of Jesuit abuser Fr Joseph Marmion SJ in March 2021.

The report, entitled A Restorative Response to the Abuse of Children Perpetrated by Joseph Marmion SJwhich you can read here », is written by two independent restorative justice practitioners, Catherine O’Connell and Barbara Walshe. It details the experience of past pupils of Joseph Marmion SJ, a Jesuit teacher who engaged in crimes of sexual and physical abuse as well as emotional and spiritual abuse. It details the response of Jesuits to that abuse since the naming of Marmion. It also recounts what emerged in the restorative justice meetings between Jesuits and past pupils, both individually and in groups. 

The report includes the letter of apology and acknowledgment from the then-Irish Jesuit Provincial Leonard Moloney SJ. In it, he lists the failures of the Jesuit Order and its members over the years to attend to those who had been abused by Joseph Marmion SJ. The current Irish Jesuit Provincial, Shane Daly SJ, says he echoes each word of Leonard Moloney’s letter of apology to the past pupils. 

Fr Daly goes on to say that he is deeply grateful to all those who took part in the two-year process. “I want to thank the past pupils/survivors for their courage and commitment in engaging with the restorative processes. I am aware of the huge amount of work that this entailed. I am also struck by the unwavering concern of the past pupils for one another and particularly for those who have not as yet engaged in the process. Also notable was their deep concern that what happened with Joseph Marmion SJ should never happen again.” 

The Provincial also thanked Catherine O’Connell and Barbara Walshe for sharing their expertise in the area of restorative justice so skilfully with all involved. He furthermore expressed his gratitude for the participation of his fellow Jesuits throughout the process. 

In the report’s acknowledgments, the practitioners also thanked the participants. “To those who were abused by Joseph Marmion, we thank you for sharing your truth with us and engaging with us since April 2021. We have never experienced what you have experienced, we do not walk in your shoes, but we heard you. We heard your courage, your honesty, your concern for your classmates, and indeed for your former teachers in this process. In compiling this report we strive to do justice to what you have told us and the trust you placed in us.” 

Referencing the Jesuits they commented, “We thank you for your willingness to listen to past pupils as they spoke of the harm done by a member of your Order, and your commitment and actions to do what you could to help repair the harm, recognising that what was done cannot ever be undone or made right. We thank you for meeting our need for independence despite funding our work.”

In their conclusion, Catherine O’Connell and Barbara Walshe noted that for many past pupils, whilst the process did not answer every need, “[t]he opportunity to be heard, to have their experiences documented, to have their questions answered, to have access to ongoing therapy and to have financial restitution, reassured them that the Jesuit Order accepted responsibility”. 

They also noted that the process raised further questions for the Jesuit Order including “the naming of other Jesuit priests who had abused and were not named publicly, and the situational risk for children globally posed by using confession for abusive purposes. They have also been challenged by past pupils and each other to explore further external processes in relation to governance and oversight”.

The Provincial Shane Daly SJ says that “Many changes have been implemented arising from the processes, and other challenges that the processes have raised for us are currently under review by our Order”.

Referencing the concerns around child safeguarding and confession he says that lessons were being learned from history in this regard, including the naming and addressing of the coercive risks identified from the Marmion abuse that relates to confession, and the subsequent sharing of the learnings globally where possible.

With regard to the question of the naming of other Jesuits against whom allegations of abuse have been made, he says, “We are continuing to inform ourselves in this regard using the learnings gained through the naming of Joseph Marmion SJ, and also through ongoing consultation with public authorities and others. All of this will inform our future decisions and criteria regarding any publication of the names of Jesuits who have been the subject of allegations of abuse. I wish to once again repeat our request to anyone who has been abused by a Jesuit, or who has any concerns, to contact our Safeguarding Office, (email: [email protected]) and/or the Gardaí and Tusla”.

A detailed Historical Narrative that draws together the story of Joseph Marmion’s abuse into one coherent document, will be published once the necessary processes of consent are completed and it will also be available publicly on this website.