Press release on the preparatory meetings for the Apostolic Visitation in Ireland
Mindful of the tragic abuse of children that has taken place in Ireland, the participants discussed the particular aspects of this important Visitation. Pastoral in nature, the Visitation “is intended to assist the local Church on her path of renewal” (Pastoral Letter of Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of Ireland) and is a sign of the Holy Father’s desire, as the Successor of Peter, to offer his pastoral solicitude to the Church in Ireland. The Visitators will give particular attention to victims of abuse and their families, but will also meet with and listen to a variety of people, including ecclesiastical authorities, lay faithful and those involved with the crucial work of safeguarding of children.
On 6 October 2010, as had been previously planned, His Eminence Cardinal Seán B. Brady, Archbishop of Armagh, the Most Reverend Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Reverend Dermot Clifford, Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, and the Most Reverend Michael Neary, Archbishop of Tuam, celebrated the Mass of the Holy Spirit together with the Visitators and Superiors from the Congregation for Bishops and the Secretariat of State. The meeting that followed, marked by fraternal warmth and mutual collaboration, summarized the discussions from the previous day and focused on the organization of the Apostolic Visitation and the Archdioceses involved.
All participants are hopeful that this significant endeavor will be an instrument of purification and healing for the Church in Ireland and help to restore the trust and hope of the faithful there.
Notes for Editors appended by the Catholic Communications Office
– See www.catholicbishops.ie for access to:
- the full text of the ‘Pastoral Letter of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, to the Catholics of Ireland’
- related Vatican videos consisting of Pope Benedict addressing the issue of the Catholic Church and abuse.
- the web recording from St Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh, of Cardinal Brady’s welcoming remarks for the ‘Pastoral Letter of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, to the Catholics of Ireland’ on 20 March 2010;
- extracts from the Pastoral Letter.
- says to the victims of abuse and their families: ‘You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry’
- expresses deep dismay at ‘sinful and criminal acts and the way the Church authorities in Ireland dealt with them’
- calls on Church leaders in Ireland to continue to cooperate fully with the civil authorities
- says that only decisive action carried out with complete honesty and transparency will restore the respect and good will of the Irish people towards the Church
- concludes his letter with a special ‘Prayer for the Church in Ireland’, which he composed himself.
- Following the Holy Father’s Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, the Apostolic Visitation of certain Irish dioceses, seminaries and religious congregations will begin in autumn of this year.
- Through this Visitation, the Holy See intends to offer assistance to the Bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful as they seek to respond adequately to the situation caused by the tragic cases of abuse perpetrated by priests and religious upon minors. It is also intended to contribute to the desired spiritual and moral renewal that is already being vigorously pursued by the Church in Ireland.
- The Apostolic Visitors will set out to explore more deeply questions concerning the handling of cases of abuse and the assistance owed to the victims; they will monitor the effectiveness of and seek possible improvements to the current procedures for preventing abuse, taking as their points of reference the Pontifical Motu Proprio “Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela” and the norms contained in Safeguarding Children: Standards and Guidance Document for the Catholic Church in Ireland, commissioned and produced by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church.
- The Visitors named by the Holy Father for the dioceses are: His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Emeritus Archbishop of Westminster, for the Archdiocese of Armagh; His Eminence Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, for the Archdiocese of Dublin; the Most Reverend Thomas Christopher Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, for the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly; the Most Reverend Terrence Thomas Prendergast, Archbishop of Ottawa, for the Archdiocese of Tuam.
Martin Long, Catholic Communications Office, Maynooth, Ireland, 00 353 861727678