Thursday, December 10, 2009

In Ireland, Summit Eve

You're looking there at St Patrick's College, Maynooth -- Ireland's lone remaining seminary, where the country's bishops have been in their Winter Meeting this week.

In the wake of last month's Murphy Report on clergy sex-abuse in the Dublin archdiocese, the bishops suspended their plenary's planned agenda to focus on the brutal findings of the state inquiry.

At the meeting's close -- and with their conference's top two leaders en route to Rome for tomorrow's group sit-down with Pope Benedict and the heads of the Roman Curia to address the report's fallout -- the bishops released the following statement:
We, as bishops, apologise to all those who were abused by priests as children, their families and to all people who feel rightly outraged and let down by the failure of moral leadership and accountability that emerges from the Report.

As an initial response to the Report, we agreed today to request the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church to explore with the relevant Government departments and statutory authorities, North and South, a mechanism by which to ensure that the Church’s current policies and practices in relation to the safeguarding of children represent best practice and that allegations of abuse are properly handled.

We are deeply shocked by the scale and depravity of abuse as described in the Report. We are shamed by the extent to which child sexual abuse was covered up in the Archdiocese of Dublin and recognise that this indicates a culture that was widespread in the Church. The avoidance of scandal, the preservation of the reputations of individuals and of the Church, took precedence over the safety and welfare of children. This should never have happened and must never be allowed to happen again. We humbly ask for forgiveness.

The Report raises very important issues for the Church in Ireland, including the functioning of the Bishops’ Conference, and, how the lay faithful can be more effectively involved in the life of the Church. We will give further detailed consideration to these issues.

In response to the many concerns raised about the use of ‘Mental Reservation’, we wish to categorically state that it has no place in covering up evil. Charity, truthfulness, integrity and transparency must be the hallmark of all our communications.

Cardinal Seán Brady and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin have been called to the Vatican by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, to enable him “to be briefed and evaluate the painful situation of the Church in Ireland following the recent publication of the Murphy Commission Report.” They will meet with Pope Benedict on Friday.

We humbly ask that you continue to pray for all those who suffer due to child abuse.