Irish Bishops statement after Spring meeting

Maynooth College

Maynooth College

The Pope's recent letter  concerning the recent sexual abuse scandals in Ireland and Europe and safeguarding children were top of the agenda at the Irish Catholic Bishops Conference Spring Meeting which has just concluded.

The also discussed a number of issues including ‘Why marriage matters’; Northern Ireland Trócaire; the Year for Priests – visit to Ireland of the relics of Saint John Vianney;  Saint Patrick's Day and the Eucharistic Congress in Ireland in 2012

Regarding the Holy Father’s meeting with Irish Bishop, they said in a statement:  The meeting in Rome on 15 and 16 February last provided a very important opportunity for the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI, the Prefects of the Congregations and the Irish diocesan bishops, to discuss openly the difficulties facing the Church in Ireland.  The two day meeting allowed for a high level of information sharing and discussion around the forthcoming pastoral letter by the Holy Father to the faithful in Ireland. 
During the meeting last month the Holy Father observed “that the sexual abuse of children and young people is not only a heinous crime, but also a grave sin which offends God and wounds the dignity of the human person created in his image. While realizing that the current painful situation will not be resolved quickly, he challenged the Bishops to address the problems of the past wit determination and resolve, and to face the present crisis with honesty and courage.”
Bishops are conscious that the statement issued after the Rome meeting was but one part of a long term process of renewal of the Church in Ireland.  Renewal requires support of the faithful throughout the Church.  Such planning is the responsibility of the Church in Ireland. 
Bishops reiterated their profound regret and sorrow that the avoidance of scandal and the preservation of the reputations of individuals and of the Church took precedence over the safety and welfare of children.  At the December meeting bishops asked for forgiveness from those who were abused by priests as children, their families and from all people angered and let down by the failure of moral leadership and accountability.  During Lent and as part of the preparation for Easter, at a local diocesan level, bishops will undertake and lead penitential acts to acknowledge the truth and reflect on the failures of the Church.
They  also noted  that Fr Federico Lombardi SJ, Holy See Press Office Director, on Monday published a statement concerning cases of the sexual abuse of minors in ecclesiastical institutions.  Bishops welcomed its timely publication and specifically its reference concerning survivors of abuse that “the correct starting point is recognition of what happened and concern for the victims and the consequences of the acts committed against them” and also that “the Church exists as part of civil society and shoulders her own responsibilities in society”.
Fr Lombardi’s statement addresses misinformation which exists in the public domain around the 2001 Letter 'De delictis gravioribus' [‘On grave crimes’] as it says “In the ambit of canon law, the crime of the sexual abuse of minors has always been considered as one of the most serious of all, and canonical norms have constantly reaffirmed this, in particular the 2001 Letter 'De delictis gravioribus' sometimes improperly cited as the cause of a 'culture of silence'.  Those who know and understand its contents, are aware that it was a decisive signal to remind the episcopate of the seriousness of the problem, as well as a real incentive to draw up operational guidelines to face it.”
It was made clear to the bishops in Rome that the 2001 Letter in no way precluded Church authorities from their civil obligations especially in regards to reporting and cooperating fully with the civil authorities.   This important matter has been consistently misrepresented in some quarters.
On Safeguarding Children the chairman and chief executive of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, Mr John Morgan and Mr Ian Elliott, updated the Bishops on progress; of the status of contacts with state authorities, North and South, and a process for carrying out an audit of child safeguarding in dioceses and religious congregations and on various legal and data protection issues; and on the methodology for carrying out the required audit which will be both timely and thorough.
Source: Irish Catholic Media Office

Share this story