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Pope to meet Irish bishops

Benedict to discuss child abuse report

08 December, 17:47
Pope to meet Irish bishops
Pope to meet Irish bishops
Pope to meet Irish bishops

(ANSA) - Vatican City, December 7 - Pope Benedict XVI will meet Irish bishops Friday to discuss the latest sex abuse scandal rocking the Irish Catholic Church, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Monday.

"I can confirm that the Holy Father has invited Cardinal Sean Brady, president of the Irish Episcopal (bishops') Conference and the archbishop of Dublin, Msgr Diarmuid Martin...to assess the painful issue of the Church in Ireland following the recent publication of the Murphy Commission report," Lombardi said.

The papal nuncio (envoy) in Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, and the heads of the relevant departments of the Roman Curia will also be present, Lombardi said.

The Murphy report, released November 26, found that the Catholic church in Dublin covered up decades of sex abuse on children.

Four former archbishops of Dublin - three now dead and one retired - failed to report child sex abuse to the police from the 1960 to the 1980s, the report said.

The report listed 320 people who complained of abuse between 1974 and 2004 and said a further 130 complaints against priests in Dublin had been made since May 2004.

It said that it was only in 1995 that the archdiocese started notifying civil authorities.

In the wake of the report, the head of the Irish Survivors of Child Abuse group urged Benedict to go to Ireland and apologise for his clergy's behaviour.

The Murphy report is the second of two detailing abuse this year. In May the Ryan report published records of 70 years of abuse at orphanages and industrial schools run by Catholic religious orders across Ireland.

Since the mid-1990s the Catholic Church has been hit by child abuse scandals in the United States, Australia, Canada and Ireland.

The Church says some 80% of the estimated 5,000 priests involved acted in the US, where huge settlements have been made to victims.

In April 2008 Pope Benedict made a six-day tour of the US, visiting Washington and New York but not Boston, the epicentre of America's clergy sex abuse scandal.

However, he met and prayed with six Boston victims in Washington, saying "no words" could convey his shock and regret about the abuse.

During the visit, victims' groups reiterated their criticism of the Church's treatment of former Boston archbishop Cardinal Bernard Law who resigned in December 2002 when unsealed court records revealed he had moved paedophile priests among church assignments without notifying parishioners.

After his resignation, he was transferred to Rome where he now holds several authoritative posts including archpriest of St. Mary Major Basilica in Rome.

The abuse scandal led to the bankruptcy of several US dioceses including Washington, Arizona and California.

POPE ASKED FOR 'EVERY EFFORT' TOWARDS TRUTH.

In June 2009, after the Ryan report, Benedict asked Irish bishops to make every effort to ''establish the truth'' and ensure ''justice for everyone''.

''The Holy Father once again urged the bishops and all in the Church to continue to establish the truth of what happened and why; to ensure that justice is done for all; to see that measures put in place to prevent abuse from happening again are fully applied, and, to help to bring healing to the survivors of abuse,'' said the Irish Bishops Conference.

Ireland, a nation that once looked to the Church for leadership, has seen increasing numbers turn from it.

Calls for criminal cases against priests have been made by the country's top politicians including President Mary McAleese.

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