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Irish Church leaders assess reports, costs of sexual abuse

February 24, 2009

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Ireland's National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church has released its first annual report on efforts to prevent sexual abuse. The report notes 56 allegations of abuse-- of varying credibility-- filed against priests last year. And the Board sets new standards for diocesan response to such allegations, including a firm directive that Church officials should refer credible reports of abuse to civil authorities. Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh welcomed the report and its recommendations as an "essential reference on best practice." The cardinal said that the report "is an indication of the Church's resolve to safeguard children at all times."

The report emerged just after Bishop Denis Brennan of Ferns revealed, in an address on Church finances, revealed that the little Ferns diocese-- with about 100,000 lay Catholics and fewer than 150 priests-- had paid out over €8 million ($12 million) in settlements with sex-abuse victims. The Ferns diocese has been a focus of sex-abuse complaints since the 1990s; a previous leader of the diocese, Bishop Brendan Comiskey, resigned in 2002 amid charges that he had failed to respond to reports of abuse. The "Ferns Report" in 2005 confirmed that the diocese had not taken action to curb priests who were charged with molesting children. The Church in Ireland is now bracing for the release of a similar report on the Dublin archdiocese.

 


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