From Olivia Kelleher
A priest who has served in the diocese of Cloyne for more than forty years, intends to commemorate the victims of mother and baby household and sexual abuse during a mass in Youghal tomorrow.
He said he never understood people who hurt children.
Canon David Herlihy said he was moved to hold the memorial after a protest group hung children's shoes on the church spiers as part of a national declaration during the Pope's visit.
He decided that it would be appropriate to pick up the shoes during the sacrificial procession and to have a small place near the altar and some prayers for the victims and the survivors of ill-treatment.
He said that in his years as a priest he was not aware of the displacement of pedophile priests who were teasing children.
In a sequel to yesterday's story in the Irish Examiner, he told Cork's 96FM that he was in the priesthood for 15 to 20 years before he knew what a pedophile was.
"I know I can say, hand on my heart, that I love children and that I had 28 cousins and cousins, all loving." I feel like half a person at the time because you're so careful with your behavior and if you are close to children. "
He said he later realized that he knew some priests in the Cloyne report.
"I actually shared a house with one of them for four years," he said. "I had no suspicions at all."
Canon Herlihy said he was sad about what had happened and lost some hope.
"What really has had a huge impact on me is the endless stream of bad publicity, which is discouraging, that can cause you to lose hope and focus," he said.
"You can be badly affected, the ruthless nature of revelations, etc. But that is small in relation to the pain, suffering and pain of those who have been abused."
Canon Herlihy said that what he had decided to do was a "small, small gesture".
"It's only a small thing on Sunday, but hopefully it will lead to better things," he said. "If we passed yesterday [Thursday] and took the shoes off again, where would it lead? Make the situation ten times worse and lead to the pain and upset in people.
"That will not achieve anything and we must try to move forward, small steps at once, just like the little baby shoes, please God, some time in the future that it will lead to something bigger."
Mass will take place tomorrow afternoon at St Mary's Church in Youghal.
The Standing4 women group organized the shoe protest.