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Bishops meet victims ahead of 'mini-synod'

SENIOR Catholic clergy are to meet survivors of clerical abuse today ahead of their visit to Rome to discuss the fallout of the institutional child abuse scandal with the Pope.

The Irish Bishops' Conference has refused to comment on the meeting except to say that it is confidential. However, it is understood to be taking place this morning in Maynooth, and various survivors' representatives will be in attendance.

The survivors will present a written submission to the bishops on the issues raised in the Ryan report on institutional abuse and the Murphy report on the cover-up of child sex abuse in the Dublin Archdiocese.

Cardinal Sean Brady announced last month that he would hold discussions with survivors ahead of his visit to the Vatican. He also said the bishops would engage in as much consultation as possible with lay people, the religious and priests before meeting Pope Benedict.

Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin will not be attending today's meeting and has been holding his own discussions with abuse victims.

The bishops of all 26 dioceses will travel to Rome this weekend ahead of their two-day 'mini-synod' with the Pontiff, which begins next Monday.

The Vatican has been criticised for failing to make a public statement following the publication of the two reports.

Cardinal Brady has said that he does not know what the outcome of the mini-synod will be and, while it would be one step, it would not "resolve all our problems".

"I expect to be heard very respectfully by the Holy Father, who said he wants to listen to us in order to help," he said late last month.

A spokesman for the Irish Bishops' Conference refused to confirm that the Maynooth meeting was taking place today and would only say that the meeting was being done "at a local level" and was confidential.

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