01 Juane 2010
PATSY McGARRY Religious Affairs Correspondent
IRELAND’S CATHOLIC bishops have welcomed the announcement by the Vatican yesterday that its investigation into clerical sexual abuse in Ireland will begin next autumn. They have promised full co-operation with it.
Following a meeting of its standing committee in Maynooth yesterday a statement on behalf of the Irish Bishops Conference said the apostolic visitation was “one more important step on the path to healing, reparation and renewal in the church in Ireland”.
In his letter to the Irish Catholic church last March Pope Benedict said he intended “to hold an apostolic visitation of certain dioceses in Ireland, as well as seminaries and religious congregations”.
Yesterday the Vatican announced the visitation would begin with the four Catholic archdioceses as well as St Patrick’s Seminary at Maynooth and the Irish College in Rome.
It said: “Through this visitation, the Holy See intends to offer assistance to the bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful as they seek to respond adequately to the situation caused by the tragic cases of abuse perpetrated by priests and religious upon minors.
“It is also intended to contribute to the desired spiritual and moral renewal that is already being vigorously pursued by the church in Ireland.”
The Vatican said the visitation would explore the past handling of cases of abuse and the assistance owed to victims.
It would also monitor the effectiveness of current procedures for preventing abuse and seek possible improvements.
The visitors named yesterday by the pope were Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, retired archbishop of Westminster and primate of England and Wales, for the Archdiocese of Armagh; Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, for the Archdiocese of Dublin; Archbishop Thomas Christopher Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, for the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly; and Archbishop Terrence Thomas Prendergast, Archbishop of Ottawa, for the Archdiocese of Tuam. The apostolic visitor to Maynooth and the Irish College in Rome will be Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York.
The apostolic visitors to the religious congregations will be Fr Joseph Tobin, former superior of the Redemptorist congregation and Jesuit Fr Gero McLoughlin who will both visit men’s religious congregations. Sr Sharon Holland, of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and a former Vatican official, as well as Sr Mairín McDonagh, of the Religious of Jesus and Mary, will visit female religious congregations.