Ireland: Vatican Ends Probe
of Clergy Abuse
BY ALESSANDRO SPECIALE ©2012 Religion News Service
Following a yearlong investigation into decades of rampant abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, the Vatican on Tuesday (March 20) called for more rigorous screening of would-be priests and compulsory child protection classes in seminaries.
Pope Benedict XVI ordered the "Apostolic Visitation" of Ireland's seminaries, religious orders and four main archdioceses in 2010 after a string of Irish government commissions detailed the extent of child sexual abuse in Catholic institutions and exposed a cover-up by several senior churchmen.
The team of church investigators included New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who was tasked with inspecting Ireland's seminaries, and Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley.
A seven-page summary of the investigation's final report was released by the Vatican on March 20, and said investigators identified past "shortcomings" that led to an "inadequate understanding of and reaction to" child abuse, "not least on the part of various bishops and religious superiors."
But the investigators also stressed that the child protection initiatives undertaken since the 1990s were "judged to be excellent."
The Vatican team praised the "attention and care" that the Irish church has shown to the victims, "both in terms of spiritual and psychological assistance and also from a legal and financial standpoint."
Irish church leaders assured the investigators that "all newly discovered cases of abuse" are "promptly" reported both to civil authorities and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican department responsible for prosecuting abusive priests.
While Ireland's top prelate, Cardinal Sean Brady, welcomed the report and its findings, the Irish branch of the victims' advocacy group SNAP slammed the report as a "tired, ineffective re-hash of the promises made by U.S. bishops a decade ago."