Archbishops visit Rome ahead of apostolic inquiry

 

IRELAND’S FOUR Catholic archbishops are to go to Rome next week to discuss the forthcoming apostolic visitation to Ireland.

The visitation was announced by Pope Benedict last March, following his meeting with the Irish bishops in Rome at which they were asked to account for their handling of the cases of sexual abuse of children by priests.

In a pastoral letter to Irish Catholics, he said the visitation would take “certain dioceses in Ireland, as well as seminaries and religious congregations”. It would be conducted by officials of the Roman Curia to see whether practices are in conflict with the Vatican.

It was confirmed last night by a spokesman for the Irish Episcopal Conference that the Catholic primate and Archbishop of Armagh Cardinal Seán Brady, the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, the Archbishop of Cashel Dermot Clifford, and the Archbishop of Tuam Michael Neary would visit Rome next week to help with preparations for the visitation.

The visitation proper is scheduled to begin later next month in the four archdioceses – of Armagh, Dublin, Cashel and Emly, and Tuam – as well as the seminaries at Maynooth and the Irish College in Rome. The visitors will include nine bishops, as well as priests and religious, who are due to visit the four metropolitan archdioceses of Ireland to begin with.

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster, will conduct the visit to Armagh; Cardinal Seán O’Malley of Boston will visit Dublin; Toronto’s Archbishop Christopher Collins visits Cashel; and Ottawa’s Archbishop Terrence Prendergast will visit Tuam.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York will head the visit to Maynooth and the Irish College in Rome. The Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education will co-ordinate the visitation of the Irish seminaries which will cover all aspects of priestly formation.

The Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life will organise the visitation of religious congregations in two phases.

Firstly it will conduct an inquiry by questionnaire to be sent to all the superiors of religious institutes/congregations in Ireland. This is intended to establish an accurate picture of the current situation and to help formulate plans for the observance and improvement of the norms contained in church child protection guidelines.

The apostolic visitors to the religious congregations will be Fr Joseph Tobin, former superior of the Redemptorist congregation, and Jesuit Fr Gero McLoughlin, who will both visit men’s religious congregations. Sr Sharon Holland, of the Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and a former Vatican official, as well as Sr Máirín McDonagh, of the Religious of Jesus and Mary, will visit female religious congregations.

As the Vatican said in a statement announcing details of the visitation last May: “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.”