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Vatican unveils plans for apostolic visitation of Irish Church to begin in fall

Catholic World News - May 31, 2010

The Vatican has announced plans for an apostolic visitation of the Church in Ireland in response to the sex-abuse crisis there. The investigation will begin in the fall of 2010.

In his March 19 letter to the Irish Church, Pope Benedict XVI said that he planned an apostolic visitation. On March 31 the Vatican unveiled the specific plans for the effort, which is intended to help Church leaders in Ireland "respond adequately to the priests and religious upon minors." The visitation is charged with exploring the handling of sex-abuse complaints and the procedures for preventing such abuse.

Pope Benedict has chosen four prelates to lead the investigation in the four metropolitan archdioceses of Ireland. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the retired Archbishop Westminster, England, will lead the investigation in the Armagh archdiocese. Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston will be responsible for Dublin; Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto for Cashel and Emly; and Archbishop Terence Prendergast for Tuam.

The Vatican has established a separate visitation to examine the Irish seminaries, under the leadership of New York's Archbishop Timothy Dolan. Also, Irish religious orders will be visited by teams led by Father Joseph Tobin and Father Gero McLaughlin for men religious; and Sister Sharon Holland and Sister Mariin McDonagh for women religious.

(All of those named by the Vatican to lead the apostolic visitations come from Irish ethnic backgrounds.) The Irish bishops' conference issued a statement welcoming the Vatican announcement. The Irish bishops promised "our full cooperation with all those involved and whose names were announced today."

In his own separate statement Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, who has frequently expressed dissatisfaction with the response of other Irish Church leaders to the sex-abuse crisis, said that he "welcomes in particular the announcement that the Visitation is being asked to evaluate the current response to victims and the quality of the assistance which the Church in Ireland owes to survivors."

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