Irish Catholics to Open Inquiry Into Abuse Cases

New York Times/April 9, 2002
By Brian Lavery

Dublin --The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland will appoint an independent investigator to review its handling of child sexual abuse by priests and will cooperate fully with a government inquiry into the most notorious cases of abuse, Archbishop Sean Brady said today.

The announcement came after an extraordinary daylong meeting of Ireland's 33 bishops at the country's largest seminary, in Maynooth. The meeting was prompted by the resignation of the Bishop of Ferns, Brendan Comiskey, on April 1, after he acknowledged that he did not do enough to stop priests in his diocese from sexually abusing children.

"Child abuse leaves deep scars on victims, and we want to help heal those scars," said Archbishop Brady, of Armagh. "Knowing the truth is part of the healing."

Addressing concerns that canon law and Vatican requirements would prevent Catholic officials here from sharing documents relating to child abuse cases, Archbishop Brady said, "The safety of children, the welfare of victims and the common good are our supreme concerns, and shall be the sole determining factors in the carrying out of this audit, so that the truth can be established."

The investigator and the scope of the mission have yet to be determined, the archbishop said. Last Thursday, the Irish health minister, Micheal Martin, announced a formal government inquiry into why state and church authorities did not do more to stop child abusers like the Rev. Sean Fortune, the most notorious of the country's pedophile priests.

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