Authors Greg Erlandson and Matthew Bunson continue the discussion they began in the book from Our Sunday Visitor, Pope Benedict XVI and the Sexual Abuse Crisis: Working for Reform and Renewal. Send us feedback at email@example.com. Kindle Edition available for download at amazon.com.
Fulfilling one of his key promises in the letter to the Catholics of Ireland issued in March of this year, Pope Benedict XVI has appointed the members of the Apostolic Visitation that will examine a number of Irish dioceses, seminaries and religious congregations in the wake of the sex abuse crisis that has convulsed much of the Catholic Church in Ireland. The visitation is scheduled to begin this fall.
The members of the visitation are key leaders in the English-speaking Catholic world, and the Holy Father chose several notable American and Canadian archbishops.
The Vatican Press Office declared in its official communiqué, “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 Press Office statement added, “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.”
One key part of the Visitation will look at the Irish dioceses shattered by the sex abuse crisis, starting with the four Metropolitan Archdioceses of Ireland (Armagh, Dublin, Cashel and Emly, and Tuam) and then extending to other dioceses. To study the individual dioceses, Pope Benedict chose Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Archbishop emeritus of Westminster, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto and Archbishop Terrence Prendergast of Ottawa. Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York has also been appointed to head the visitation of the Irish seminaries, including the Pontifical Irish College in Rome. There will also be visits to the houses of men and women religious.
The appointment of the North American prelates is a logical one. The archbishops head several archdioceses with longstanding close connections to Ireland and large Irish Catholic populations as a result of the massive migration of Irish Catholics to North America in the 19th century. New York and Boston, for example, have deep ties to Ireland. The experience of the American bishops over the last eight years in dealing with the crisis in the United States will also be invaluable. Cardinal O’Malley is especially respected as a leader in dealing with the scandal. He has been credited with bringing genuine healing and reform in several dioceses battered by cases and the resignation of their bishops, including Palm Beach and Boston where Cardinal Bernard Law stepped down in 2002.
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