Vatican probe into child protection to begin next month
AN unprecedented probe ordered by Pope Benedict XVI into the Irish Catholic Church and child protection issues is expected to take place by the end of next month.
However, no final date has yet been set for the Apostolic Visitation here by international prelates, ordered by the Holy See in March after the publication of the shocking Murphy Report into top level cover-ups of paedophile clerics.
But the Irish Independent has learned that the Vatican told the four Irish archbishops that it will soon announce details of next month's programme.
Yesterday, the country's bishops, meeting for their annual autumn conference in Maynooth, remained silent on their view of the planned visit, which will see two cardinals and three archbishops from England, America and Canada investigating the Irish archdioceses and seminaries.
There was no press conference or public statement from the Bishops' Conference which is chaired by Cardinal Sean Brady, the leader of the Irish church.
The regular quarterly meeting of the bishops was postponed to allow for the visit to Rome by Cardinal Brady and Archbishops Diarmuid Martin, Dermot Clifford and Michael Neary.
Earlier this month, the four most senior Irish prelates met the international delegation to finalise the format of the visitation and to whom they will be talking.
The Vatican has said the visitors "will give particular attention to victims of abuse and their families, but will also meet with and listen to a variety of people, including ecclesiastical authorities, lay faithful and those involved with the crucial work of safeguarding children".
Pope Benedict has invited the Irish Catholic community to support his initiative with their prayers. He hopes the visitation may be for the faithful "an occasion of renewed fervour in the Christian life, and that it may deepen their faith and strengthen their hope in Christ our Saviour".
Another key item on the bishops' agenda yesterday was the 50th International Eucharistic Congress which is due to take place in Dublin from June 10 to June 17, 2012, 80 years after the last time the international event was held in Ireland.
The celebration is expected to attract thousands of pilgrims to the country. A decision on whether Pope Benedict will attend is not expected to be made until nearer the date.