Pope outlines scope of Irish abuse probe
VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Catholic archbishops of New York and Boston
will meet personally with victims of abusive priests as part of a
Vatican investigation of the Catholic Church in Ireland, the Vatican
announced on Friday (Nov. 12).
Pope Benedict XVI called for the investigation, called an Apostolic
Visitation, last March in an open letter to Irish Catholics that
addressed a growing scandal over clerical sex abuse of children.
Since 2003, four government-sponsored investigations have revealed
widespread child abuse over a period of decades by Irish Catholic
clergy. The revelations have led to the resignations of three bishops.
The five-month visitation aims to assess the church's effectiveness
in responding to abuse cases, assisting victims and protecting children
under the church's care, the Vatican said. It will not investigate or
make judgments on particular cases of abuse.
The Vatican statement noted the responsibility of Irish church
authorities to investigate abuse charges, and to "inform the competent
civil and ecclesiastical authorities, in conformity with the current
civil and ecclesiastical laws."
The Vatican emphasized that the visitation "will in no way interfere
with the ordinary activity of local magistrates ... nor with the work of
any legislative authority, which has competence in the area of
prevention of abuse of minors."
Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston will lead the investigation of
the Archdiocese of Dublin and the dioceses in its province. New York
Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan will investigate five Irish seminaries.
Sister Sharon Holland, a Michigan-based expert in church law who worked
at the Vatican until 2009, is on a four-person team assigned to
investigate religious orders in Ireland.
None of the investigators will grant interviews "during the first
phase of the Visitation," the Vatican said.
The lead investigators will also attend services in each of the
country's four archdioceses as part of "penitential activities"
sponsored by Irish bishops, which include "prayer, fasting and