The Vatican has published its report on the child abuse crisis in the Catholic Church in Ireland.
It recommends that Irish diocesan authorities and those of religious
institutes should continue to devote time to listening to victims and
providing support for them and their families.
The findings are based on an apostolic visitation to the four archdioceses, religious congregations and seminaries.
The report found that the current guidelines on child protection were being followed.
It said Archbishops had given assurances that any newly-discovered
cases of abuse were brought before the competent civil authority and the
congregation for the doctrine of the faith.
The report said that it must be acknowledged that within the
Christian community innocent young people were abused by clerics and
religious to whose care they had been entrusted, while those who should
have exercised vigilance often failed to do so effectively.
It said that in delivering its findings, the Holy See re-echoes the
sense of dismay and betrayal that the Pope expressed in his letter to
Catholics in Ireland two years ago, "regarding the sinful and criminal
acts that were at the root of this particular crisis".
Primate of All Ireland Cardinal Sean Brady welcomed the publication of the findings of the visitation.
Cardinal Brady said the church expressed a heartfelt plea for
forgiveness from victims and from God for the terrible sins and crimes
He also emphasised that the visitation was pastoral in nature and was
intended to assist the Irish church on its path of renewal.
Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said the extent of the child
abuse crisis was shattering and that the children who had been abused
should be foremost in our minds.
Admission criteria for seminaries
The report on the visitation also proposed more consistent admission
criteria for seminaries and in-depth formation on child protection for
priests as part of their academic programme.
It proposed that seminary buildings should be exclusively for seminarians and those preparing them for the priesthood.
On the religious congregations, the report found that all religious
institutes should perform an audit of their personnel files, if such an
audit has not yet been carried out.
Commenting on the findings, Sr Marianne O'Connor of CORI,
acknowledged that there had been a slowness to understand the impact of
Sr O'Connor insisted that the religious orders and the church were heartfelt in their apology for the abuse crisis.
She said there was a focus on ensuring child safety procedures were in place, and on the ongoing support of victims.
Pope Benedict promised report
The report was promised two years ago by Pope Benedict XVI in his letter to Catholics in Ireland.
The Pope expressed horror and dismay in the wake of the Ryan and
Murphy reports, which revealed a 70-year history child abuse by a
significant number of priests, brothers and nuns and cover-ups by their
The Pope assigned six teams to formally assess the implications of
the abuse scandals in each of the country's four archdioceses, in
religious orders and congregations based in Ireland and abroad.
Some of the teams met victims and concerned Catholics in advertised
locations, as well as individual survivors behind closed doors.
Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar has said the Government's
priority is to protect children and to put legislation in place to make
sure that is the case.
Mr Varadkar said legislation to put the Children First regulations on
a statutory footing would go to committee before Easter, while a
standalone referendum on children's rights would be held before the end
of the year.