Child sex abuse and church failures 'great scandals'


THE CRIMES of clerical child sex abuse and the failure of church authorities to respond adequately to them “are both great scandals”, Archbishop of Toronto Thomas Collins said in Thurles yesterday.

Speaking at a service of penitence and healing in the Cathedral of the Assumption there, he asked: “What does the most persistent journalist who reports priestly evildoing have in common with St John Vianney, the holy Curé of Ars, patron of parish priests? They both expect priests to be holy.”

Archbishop Collins is leading the apostolic visitation to Cashel and Emly archdiocese. It began last Wednesday and is expected to continue to the end of this month. He is accompanied by Joan Breech of the child protection committee in Toronto’s archdiocese and his assistant Fr Edward Curtis.

The seven apostolic visitation teams sent by the Vatican to inquire into the Irish Catholic Church are to report to Pope Benedict by the end of April.

The former archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, is leading the visitation to Armagh archdiocese. His team includes Dr Sheila Hollins, of the UK board of psychiatry at St George’s University of London, Msgr Mark O’Toole, rector of Allen Hall seminary in Chelsea, and Sr Clement Doran. They will be in Armagh until January 25th.

The visitation teams to Ireland are made up mainly of sons of the Irish diaspora. Included are two cardinals, five archbishops, three bishops, the head of a seminary in Rome and the head of a seminary in London. Four teams have been sent to each of Ireland’s four Catholic archdioceses, a fifth will visit Irish seminaries and houses of formation, while a sixth and seventh team will conduct visitations to the religious congregations.

The Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Seán O’Malley, leads the visitation team to Dublin’s archdiocese. Accompanying him are Barbara Thorp, director of the office for pastoral support and child protection in Boston, Fr John Connolly, special assistant to the cardinal, and lawyer Thomas Hannigan.

They arrived in Dublin on November 14th, stayed five days then and returned last weekend.

On March 6th, the Archbishop of Ottawa, Terence Prendergast, will resume a visitation to Tuam archdiocese which he began on December 13th last, when it lasted five days. He is accompanied by Fr James Conn, professor of Canon Law at the Gregorian University in Rome and at Boston College.

The visitation to Maynooth, St Malachy’s in Belfast, the Irish College in Rome, the Milltown Institute and All Hallows in Dublin, takes place from January 31st to February 7th. It will be led by the archbishop of New York and new president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Timothy Dolan.

He will be accompanied by the Archbishop of Baltimore (Maryland), Edwin O’Brien; the Bishop of Juneau (Alaska), Edward Burns; the Bishop of La Crosse (Wisconsin), William Callahan; the Bishop of Gaylord (Michigan), Bernard Hebda; and Msgr Francis Kelly, rector, Casa Santa Maria (the North American College), Rome. Fr Dennis McManus and Fr James Cruz, will assist.

The visitation to male religious congregations will be conducted by former Vincentian superior general Fr Robert Maloney and Edinburgh-based Jesuit Fr Gero McLoughlin. The delegation to the female religious will be former Vatican official at the Congregation for Religious Sr Sharon Holland IHM and Dublin-based Sr Máirin McDonagh RJM.