Archbishops Thomas Collins and Terrence Prendergast

Collins, Prendergast begin meetings with Irish archbishops to probe abuse scandal

  • October 4, 2010

Two Canadian archbishops will be among Vatican officials discussing upcoming apostolic visitations with Irish archbishops over that nation's sexual abuse scandal in the Church.

The meeting will take place Oct. 5-6 at the offices of the Congregation for Bishops and be chaired by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the former archbishop of Quebec City, said Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., who along with Toronto's Archbishop Thomas Collins is among the apostolic visitors named by the Vatican.

The visitation was announced by Pope Benedict XVI in a pastoral letter to Irish Catholics in March in the wake of the abuse scandal that engulfed the Irish Church. The Pope promised to root out the abuse problem that Church authorities had ignored in the past. He acknowledged in his letter that there had been "a misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal."

"On the first day, the apostolic visitors will be consulted on the conduct of the apostolic visitations and development of working documents and procedures to carry out this exercise… in a way that will be helpful to the Church in Ireland and the Holy See," Prendergast said.

Prendergast said other countries attempting to cope with allegations of sexual abuse by clergy and mishandling of these cases by bishops may also benefit from this.

"On the second day, the four metropolitan archbishops of Ireland will join the consultation for an exchange on the best way to implement the Pope's intentions in proposing the visitation and the congregation's efforts in carrying them out."

Prendergast expects there will be a "clarification of the extent of the goals already spelled out," including verifying the implementation of the Irish Church's document on the Protection of Children and the Holy See's canonical prescriptions on the handling of allegations of the abuse of children and other vulnerable persons by clergy members, and clarification of expectations by different parties regarding the scope of the visitation process.

Aside from Prendergast, who will be visiting the archdiocese of Tuam, and Collins, who will visit the archdiocese of Cashel and Emily, the other apostolic visitors are Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley (visiting the archdiocese of Dublin) and British Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor (visiting the archdiocese of Armagh).

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