Pope meets Irish bishops to discuss child abuse

The Pope is meeting a delegation of 24 bishops from the Church of Ireland today and tomorrow to discuss the fallout of last year’s damning reports revealing decades of child abuse.

The delegation, being led by the Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Sean Brady, will be called to give an account of the abuse outlined in the Ryan and Murphy reports, which rocked the Church last year.

The reports outlined decades of abuse committed by clergy in Church-run institutions and parish priests who, instead of being reported to the authorities, were moved to other parishes where they were free to abuse more children.

The Irish prelates have spent the last few weeks meeting priests and lay people in preparation for the two-day visit. The Bishop of Killaloe, Willie Walsh, joined hundreds of people in a walk of atonement in Co Tipperary at the weekend before heading to Rome for the summit.

The delegation includes Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan, who is the only one of five bishops named in last December’s Murphy report not to have handed in his resignation.

The Bishop of Clogher and spokesman for the Irish Bishops Conference, Joseph Duffy, was quoted by Associated Press as saying: “A casualty of all this has been the truth. The fullness of the truth must come out, everything must be laid on the table.”

Seven of the Pope’s senior cardinals and aides are expected to be present at the summit, including US Cardinal William Levada, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office charged with reviewing abuse cases.

The Pope has promised to write a pastoral letter to Irish Catholics on the Church’s response to the abuse.