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Friday 20 April 2018

Hierarchy's report to Pontiff on abuse is kept secret

John Cooney and Edel Kennedy

THE Catholic hierarchy decided to keep secret the key briefing documents on child sex abuse which were submitted by the Irish bishops to the Pope in Rome this week.

A formal decision was taken at the two-day meeting with Pope Benedict that the personal submissions of the senior clergymen would not be made public, the Irish Independent has learned.

Last night, Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin declined to make available the text of his presentation to the Pope and the Curial Cardinals.

"Bishops need to have the opportunity to discuss matters freely with the Pope," said his spokesperson.

"The Irish bishops do not publish individual contributions at regular meetings of the Episcopal conference.

"A communique and the subsequent press conference in Rome addressed the issues discussed at the meeting."

Similar refusals to make public the texts of their presentations were made by a number of bishops who were contacted by this newspaper.

There was no response from Cardinal Sean Brady as his spokesman was unavailable yesterday.

Bishop of Clonfert John Kirby said last night that the prelates had agreed not to make their presentations public.

"We agreed the submissions were for his Holiness and the people inside (the Vatican)," he said, adding that he would not be publishing his document about his own diocese.

Bishop of Achonry Brendan Kelly said he did not think he would be publishing his submission in the future.

"I consider what I said to be personal and private," he said.

He declined to say if copies of the submissions had been given to the Pope. However, he added that he believed the church was doing everything in its power to protect children.

Many of the bishops were not due to return to Ireland until last night or today.

Those who were contactable said they believed the Pope's statement did go far enough in addressing child abuse. They emphasised that the dioceses were continuing to strengthen their child-protection policies.

Bishop Kirby said it was the first time the Vatican had made a clear statement of support for the secular state in Ireland on the issue of child protection.

He told the Pontiff that State law should be rigorously followed in questions of child protection and sexual abuse.

Irish Independent

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