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VATICAN-IRISH Sep-30-2010 (350 words) xxxi

Irish archbishops called to Rome to prepare Vatican probe into abuse

By Sarah Delaney
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Irish archbishops will travel to Rome in early October to meet with Vatican officials about the apostolic visitation of their dioceses ordered by Pope Benedict XVI in response to the priestly sexual abuse scandal, the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference announced.

The four archbishops were called by the leadership of the Congregation for Bishops to help prepare for the visitation, which the pope said would help them address the sexual abuse scandal, improve assistance to victims and perfect preventative measures.

The Irish church leaders -- Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland; and Archbishops Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Dermot Clifford of Cashel and Emly, and Michael Neary of Tuam -- will meet with the prelates conducting the visitations and with Vatican officials for a "preparation and planning meeting," Martin Long, spokesman for the Irish bishops' conference, told Catholic News Service by telephone Sept. 30.

The visitation is a "work in progress," Long said.

The October meeting is not expected to include a meeting with the pope, he said. Irish bishops met with the pope in February, after an independent study known as the Murphy Report said the church operated with a "culture of secrecy" in dealing with charges of abuse by victims and their families in the Archdiocese of Dublin from 1975 to 2004.

Other reports showed the problem was widespread throughout other dioceses and often involved the complicity of Irish authorities.

In a pastoral letter to Irish Catholics in March, Pope Benedict called for the apostolic visitation, promising to root out the problem that the church had ignored in the past.

In the letter, he acknowledged that there had been "a misplaced concern for the reputation of the church and the avoidance of scandal" on the part of church authorities.

The exact date and length of the Irish archbishops' visit to Rome was not given.

The apostolic visitors named by the Vatican to conduct the investigations are: British Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, retired archbishop of Westminster; Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston; Archbishop Thomas C. Collins of Toronto; and Archbishop Terrence T. Prendergast of Ottawa, Ontario.


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