Archbishop Bernard Longley helped to launch a LOUDfence at St Chad’s Cathedral today, Sunday 7 May, as he tied a ribbon and message of support to railings.
In a visible show of support and solidarity with those who have been abused His Grace led the way in launching the LOUDfence.
His message read: I offer this prayer-ribbon in heartfelt reparation for the suffering of all victim-survivors of abuse within the Archdiocese of Birmingham. I apologise on behalf of the Catholic Church for all that they have suffered. I humbly ask for their forgiveness and I thank them for all that they have taught us.
Archbishop Bernard was joined by Antonia Sobocki, the UK Project Manager for LOUDfence UK, and Katherine Shirk Lucas, a Roman Catholic Theologian and Lecturer at the Catholic University of Paris who helped to organise the recent LOUDfence in France.
Katherine also shared a letter from the President of the French Bishops’ Council and bought messages from survivors and survivor advocates in France to tie to the LOUDfence.
Antonia said: “All change starts with dialogue and compassion. LOUDfence is the beginning of that dialogue and it’s my hope that people will feel welcome, reassured and enabled to engage with dialogue because ultimately it takes all of us to work together.”
Many other ribbons and messages of support were added to the LOUDfence, which runs until Saturday 13 May (it pauses tomorrow, Bank Holiday Monday).
Visitors included a group from France – last month a LOUDfence was hosted at a meeting of the Bishops’ Conference in Lourdes and at the National Conference of the Ordained Religious of France, held in Paris – and safeguarding colleagues from other Catholic dioceses.
Friends from St Philip’s Cathedral in Birmingham – which hosted a LOUDfence last year – also attended, along with members of the Survivor Engagement Panel which works closely with the Diocesan Safeguarding Team.
The 11.30am Mass made several references to LOUDfence and Antonia also spoke to the congregation afterwards. Mass was also due to be said at the Vatican for the Archdiocese of Birmingham and the LOUDfence today.
In his Homily Archbishop Bernard said: “I wish to thank the victim-survivors of abuse within the Catholic Church, who may have joined us today in person or online, for their witness of great courage and strength – especially when it may be painful and costly to cross the threshold of a church property, with all the unwelcome memories that this can bring.”
LOUDfence is a survivor-led initiative and is rapidly gaining international attention. It involves tying LOUD (brightly coloured) ribbons and messages of support in public spaces. The aim is to give survivors a voice, create and raise awareness in the community and work to end abuse.
Throughout this week visitors to St Chad’s Cathedral are encouraged to take part by tying ribbons and messages on the outside railings between the entrance to Cathedral House and the book shop, as well as just inside the cathedral in the Bell Chamber.
As part of the event the Diocesan Safeguarding Team are running a ‘Safeguarding in Action’ event in the Grimshaw Room. We appreciate not everyone will want to go inside the cathedral, and so the Grimshaw Room is an alternative place for quiet reflection and a cuppa.
If you are not able to attend in person please: