Saturday, February 13, 2010

Irish bishops travel to Rome for unprecedented abuse review

Saturday, February 13, 2010
Irish bishops travel to Rome for unprecedented abuse review

PATSY McGARRY, Religious Affairs Correspondent

TWENTY-FOUR Irish Catholic bishops travel to Rome this weekend for what is believed to be the first meeting of its kind at the Vatican on clerical child sex abuse.

The meeting involves Pope Benedict, senior curial figures and an entire Bishops’ Conference.

In 2002, the US cardinals were invited to a similar meeting in Rome on the issue of of clerical sexual abuse but not all of the American Bishops’ Conference.

The invitations from the pope to the Irish bishops last month followed publication of the Ryan report last May, the Murphy report last November and the announcement by Pope Benedict in December that he planned the rare step of issuing a pastoral letter to Irish Catholics.

That letter had been expected by next Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, but is not now likely for some weeks.

On arrival in Rome, the Irish bishops will reside at Santa Marta in the Vatican, where cardinals taking part in a papal election are accommodated. They are scheduled to meet the pope and senior curial officials at three sessions over Monday and Tuesday, beginning at 8am each day, continuing to 1pm on Monday before resuming after lunch and continuing to 8pm that night.

The final session on Tuesday morning will end at lunchtime. It is believed that each bishop may speak for up to seven minutes during these sessions, with questions and comments from the pope and the curial cardinals. After the final session on Tuesday, it is believed some Irish bishops will host a press conference.

Among the Irish bishops who will not be attending the meetings in Rome next week will be Bishop Donal Murray who resigned as Bishop of Limerick on December 17th last and Bishop John Magee of Cloyne whose powers of governance were removed last year pending the outcome of the Cloyne report.

However, in attendance will be the Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin Jim Moriarty, though he offered his resignation to the pope on December 23rd last. That resignation, and those of auxiliary bishops of Dublin √Čamonn Walsh and Ray Field, who offered theirs on Christmas Eve, has yet to be formally accepted by the pope. Bishop Walsh and Bishop Field are not going to Rome, as only bishops of dioceses were invited.

Dublin abuse victim Marie Collins claimed bishops outside of Dublin had “ignored the Murphy survivors” while preparing for their visit to Rome. Noting that four bishops had, at Maynooth last Monday, “rightly” met people who had been abused in institutions run by the religious congregations, she found it “amazing” they “did not do the same for the clerical abuse survivors”.

She said: “Archbishop Martin will listen to the Murphy survivors but it is a slap in the face to so many people who are hurting that the rest of the bishops of Ireland have no interest in what they might have to say.”

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