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Friday, December 9, 2016
Report from the Irish Bishops' General Meeting
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 The Irish Bishops' Conference held their scheduled General Meeting in Maynooth on 9 and 10 of December. Part of the meeting included a presentation by Ms Maureen Lynott, Chairperson of the Working Group whose remit is to develop a comprehensive child protection policy for the Irish Catholic Church. CHILD PROTECTION Ms Maureen Lynott gave an update on the progress of the working group, which was established on 5 June 2003 by the Irish Bishops' Conference (IBC), the Conference of Religious of Ireland and the Irish Missionary Union, in order to develop a comprehensive child protection policy for the Catholic Church. Ms Lynott said of the group's work: "The objective, quite simply, is to publish a policy in 2004 which will enable the Catholic Church in Ireland to become an international model of best practice when it comes to preventing child abuse. By next year, we aim to have not only a central policy but tailored guidelines to its application, so that policy speedily becomes practice. This is also happening in Britain and the US." The IBC also discussed the progress required to action the outstanding recommendations contained in the research, Time to Listen, Confronting Child Sexual Abuse by Catholic Clergy in Ireland, which was published last week and which was undertaken by members of the Health Services Research Centre at the Department of Psychology of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. The IBC agreed to study its findings in detail, be guided by its conclusions and informed by its recommendations. Although over half of the 19 recommendations contained in the research have already been implemented, it was agreed that Ms Lynott's group would now consider how best to implement the balance of the recommendations in practice. 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE UN INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF THE FAMILY The bishops noted that 2004 will be the 10th anniversary of the United Nations International Year of the Family. The bishops welcomed the intention of the Government to celebrate this anniversary. The Church intends to mark this event by a number of initiatives designed to heighten awareness of the importance of marriage and family, and to support and strengthen family life in Ireland. It was agreed that the bishops' Commission on the Family and the Welfare of Children - which is part of the Department of Pastoral Care will oversee Church initiatives celebrating this anniversary. STEM CELL RESEARCH The bishops noted the failure of the EU Council of Ministers on 3 December last to agree on guidelines for the funding of stem cell research. The consequential lack of clarity regarding this issue is of great concern to the IBC. Notwithstanding the confusion at a political level, the IBC is committed to oppose any proposal which involves funding the destruction of human embryos. ASYLUM SEEKERS AND MIGRANTS The bishops discussed the importance of the timing of the Irish EU Presidency in the context of the lack of rights for asylum seekers and migrants at a European level, and agreed to issue a comprehensive statement on this issue in the coming days. ELECTIONS TO DEPARTMENTS AND CREATION OF A NEW DEPARTMENT The Irish Bishops' Conference is the collective term used to describe the formal meetings held between all 35 bishops, which take place at least on a quarterly basis. Bishops are represented on the IBC from all 26 dioceses in Ireland (32 counties). The bishops elected the following Officers of the Episcopal Conference for the next three years: President - Dr Sen Brady (Archbishop of Armagh); Vice President - Cardinal Desmond Connell (Archbishop of Dublin); Secretary Dr William Lee (Bishop of Waterford and Lismore); Finance Secretary Dr James McLoughlin (Bishop of Galway). Up to now the IBC comprised four departments, each chaired by a bishop. This meeting of the IBC renamed existing departments and created a fifth department dealing with Pastoral Renewal and Faith Development. The full list of IBC departments now reads, (including chairman): Department of Catholic Education & Formation (Dr Donal Murray, Bishop of Limerick); Department of Pastoral Care (Dr Christopher Jones, Bishop of Elphin (Sligo)); Department of Planning & Communications (Dr Patrick Walsh, Bishop of Down and Connor (Belfast)); Department of Social Issues & International Affairs (Dr Diarmuid Martin, Coadjutor Archbishop of Dublin); Department of Pastoral Renewal & Faith Development (Dr Bill Murphy, Bishop of Kerry). The next General Meeting of the Conference will take place on 8 - 10 March 2004. Source: Irish Bishops Conference Media Office
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