Vatican envoys must report to gardai
Senior churchmen from outside Ireland investigating clerical child sex abuse in the scandal-ridden Irish church must report to gardai any new allegations of abuse they find, the Vatican said yesterday.
A statement announced that the unprecedented investigation started last Thursday and is expected to submit its findings to Pope Benedict XVI by Easter 2011.
The investigation, know as an apostolic visitation, is to identify "explicit problems which may require some assistance by the Holy See", a reference to canon (church) law issues.
The probe was announced by the Pope in his letter to the Catholics of Ireland last March in response to the catalogue of abuse in the Murphy and Ryan reports. Its starting point accepts the Murphy and Ryan findings that the pervasive scale of abuse had gone on in the Irish church for decades within a "culture of secrecy".
The papal taskforce will probe four Irish archdioceses, seminaries and religious orders. It will not deal with new allegations, which, should they arise, must be reported to civil and local church authorities, and it is not to interfere with the authority of local bishops.
Papal investigators will meet victims and their families who wish to tell them their experiences of how they have been "deeply wounded by abuse". Yesterday, Vatican officials said anyone wanting to meet the taskforce could request an appointment through Archbishop Guissepe Leanza, the Papal Nuncio in Dublin.
Guidelines established in 2009 by Irish church leaders to prevent further abuse of children in Catholic schools will also be monitored by the special envoys to check they are being applied effectively.