Vatican City, May 31 (DPA) The Vatican Monday announced that it will dispatch four senior clerics to Ireland in September as inspectors chosen by Pope Benedict XVI to investigate the handling of sex abuse cases involving priests there.
Benedict first referred to the probe, or apostolic visitation, in a March 19 letter to Irish Catholics in which he apologised to those who suffered molestations when they were children.
The inspectors, or ‘apostolic visitors’, aim to ‘explore more deeply the handling of cases of abuse and the assistance owed to the victims’, the Vatican said in a statement.
They are also set to monitor the effectiveness of and seek possible improvements to the current procedures for preventing abuse, it said.
The visitation will begin in the four metropolitan archdioceses of Ireland – Armagh, Dublin, Cashel and Emly, and Tuam – and will then be extended to some other dioceses.
The visitors named by the pontiff are: Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, archbishop emeritus of Westminster, England, for the archdiocese of Armagh; the Archbishop of Boston, US, Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley for the archdiocese of Dublin; Archbishop Thomas Christopher Collins of Toronto, Canada, for the archdiocese of Cashel and Emly; and Archbishop Terrence Thomas Prendergast of Ottawa, Canada, for the archdiocese of Tuam.
The apostolic visitation also intends to offer assistance to the bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful in their response to the ‘tragic’ abuse cases, and ‘contribute to the desired spiritual and moral renewal’ of the Catholic Church in Ireland, the Vatican statement said.
Four Irish bishops have resigned in the wake of the scandal in Ireland, where last year a government-commissioned report revealed hundreds of cases of abuse dating from the mid-1970s.
In recent months, revelations of sexual abuse by priests have also surfaced in the US, the Netherlands, Austria, Mexico and the pontiff’s native Germany.