Benedict faces fresh pressure to meet victims
Renewed pressure is mounting on Pope Benedict to issue an invitation to meet Irish victims of child clerical abuse and survivors of institutional abuse in his promised Lenten letter to the Catholics of Ireland.
Bishop of Killaloe Willie Walsh yesterday said he would like to see Pope Benedict invite them to the Vatican for a face-to-face meeting.
Bishop Walsh told RTE's 'This Week' programme that he could not see any reason why the meeting could not happen, but he said he was reluctant to tell the Pope what to do.
Bishop Walsh admitted that public anger had arisen from pictures of the pomp and ceremony on display when the Irish bishops knelt and kissed the Pope's ring.
A full-scale opportunity for the bishops to assess the negative reaction to the Rome summit and co-ordinate their responses to the papal letter comes today when they begin their spring meeting in Maynooth.
An important talking point among the bishops will be the national anger provoked last week by the Bishop of Ferns, Dr Denis Brennan, when he suggested church-goers in Wexford should contribute financially to compensation settlements for victims.
The three-day meeting will hear from the head of the church's independent board on child protection that gaps remain in procedures for ensuring children are safeguarded.
Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster yesterday, Ian Elliott, chief executive of the National Board for Safeguarding Children, said there were too many policies at local level and that changes were needed.
"We don't have any national standards with regards to the management of risky people within the church. That is a major deficit for us," he added.
Mr Elliott also said it was necessary to redefine the current policy which requires a priest to 'step aside' from parish duties or take 'administrative leave' when an allegation or complaint is made against him.
Clergy argue this automatic procedure is conducted without due process and that even if the cleric is found innocent, his good name is damaged.