‘Is this the closest I’ll get to Pope Francis?’

Derry man Brian Doherty pictured beside a model of Pope Francis outside Madame Tussauds in New York.
Derry man Brian Doherty pictured beside a model of Pope Francis outside Madame Tussauds in New York.

Derry abuse victim, Brian Doherty, believes having his picture taken beside a waxwork model of Pope Francis is the closest he will ever get to meeting the pontiff.

Brian travelled to New York recently where he had a picture taken beside a waxwork model of Pope Francis at Madame Tussauds.

“It’s been almost three years since I sent a letter to Pope Francis asking him to meet with me,” Brian said.

“I’ve yet to receive a reply from Pope Francis and the more time passes the more I am starting to think the closest I am ever going to get to talking to him is by standing beside a waxwork model,” he added.

Brian was born in Derry in 1947 and when he was three weeks old he was placed into the care of the Sisters of Nazareth in the St. Joseph’s Home in Termonbacca. Brian remained there until he was 14 years-old.

Brian has spoken very openly about the abuse he suffered at the hands of the Sisters of Nazareth in the 1940s and 50s and within the last few years he has sent six letters to Pope Francis asking him to meet with survivors of clerical abuse from Northern Ireland.

Brian led the call for Northern Ireland victims of clerical abuse to meet with the Pope when he attended a special meeting in Derry with the Bishop of Derry, Most Rev Dr Seamus Hegarty in October 2013.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA) is presently investigating allegations of child abuse in children’s homes and other residential institutions in Northern Ireland from 1922 to 1995. The inquiry is due to deliver its findings early next year.

“I received a letter back from the Vatican to tell me they had received one of my letters and they were passing it on to the Holy Father. It was stamped and everything by ‘Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana and is signed by Vice Prefect Ambrogio M Piazzoni.

“I just can’t understand why it would take the Pope so long to reply to a letter. I, and many others like me, are not asking for anything we don’t deserve, all we want is what is right.”

Brian’s mother, who moved to Wales, shortly after Brian was born returned to Derry 14 years after her youngest son entered the home at Termonbacca.

Brian is now retired and lives in Woolwich. He still has family in Derry and visits here regularly.