Category: Archive

Ireland’s bishops move to address child abuse

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Andrew Bushe

DUBLIN — An independent audit of the handling of complaints of clerical child sex abuse is to be set up by the hierarchy following a crisis meeting on Monday. The announcement came after the bishops held a day-long extraordinary general meeting in Maynooth to consider the growing controversy about the church’s handling of pedophile priests.

The primate of all Ireland, Archbishop Sean Brady of Armagh, said the bishops feel a real sense of urgency about the need to establish the full truth about how complaints of child sexual abuse had been dealt with in dioceses.

A child-abuse victim confronted the papal nuncio and a number of bishops outside the meeting.

Brady told a press conference the safety of children, the welfare of victims of abuse and the common good are the bishop’s supreme concerns.

They would be the “sole determining factors in the carrying out of this audit so that the truth can be established,” he said.

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The precise means by which the audit can most effectively carried out and who will undertake it is still under consideration. The terms of reference are being drawn up.

The bishops are also considering the best way to extend the brief of a child protection office they set up last year.

“These measures are practical, concrete steps in our continuing efforts to help victims,” Brady said.

A statement from the bishops referred to the “justifiable anger and distress” that had been highlighted in recent days that has caused “great pain and shame” to the church.

Brady said child abuse leaves deep scars on victims.

“We want to help heal those scars,” he said. “Knowing the truth is part of the healing. This is a painful time for all of us, lay people, priests, religious and bishops.

“However, we must all acknowledge that the victims are those of have suffered and continue to suffer the greatest pain.

“We again express our deepest apologies for inadequacies in our response to that pain.”

Brady pledged full church cooperation with a planned government inquiry into abuse by priests in the diocese of Ferns.

He sees no impediment. “We are citizens of the state,” he said. “We follow the laws of the state.”

Bishop of Meath Michael Smith said the hierarchy had received conflicting advice over the years on how to deal with what was a “very intractable problem.”

He said it caused extraordinary pain to victims and, in one case he is aware of, the pain was still being suffered when they were 90 years of age.

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