Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins and Ottawa's Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J.

Canadian archbishops among apostolic visitors to Ireland

  • June 2, 2010

OTTAWA - Toronto Archbishop Thomas Collins and Ottawa's Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, S.J., are among nine church leaders who will join an apostolic visit to Ireland to help the Irish Church reeling from a sexual abuse crisis.

“It’s a common practice when there is a problem or a struggle or a difficulty of any kind for the Holy See to have a visitation,” said Collins.



He and Prendergast will join Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston and Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, archbishop emeritus of Westminster in the United Kingdom. Each has been assigned an Irish archdiocese to contribute to spiritual and moral renewal already underway in the Irish Church, according to a May 31 Holy See news release.

Pope Benedict also named Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York to lead the visitation of the Irish seminaries, including the Pontifical Irish College in Rome, while U.S. Redemptorist Father Joseph Tobin and Jesuit Father Gero McLoughlin will visit men's religious orders. U.S. Sister Sharon Holland and Irish Sister Mairin McDonagh will conduct the visitation of the women's communities.

Ireland has been reeling since two investigations revealed not only widespread abuse by priests and religious but a failure on the part of Irish bishops to proactively deal with the problem. Pope Benedict apologized to the Irish faithful in a March 20 letter, in which he announced a visitation would take place.

“It’s done in a spirit of co-operation, of openness,” said Collins. The goal is to bring in someone from the outside, to provide fresh eyes and ears so the new perspective can be of assistance, he added.

“I would hope that would be one of the outcomes of a visitation is that the people would be encouraged,” said Prendergast. “That’s how I see my ministry as a bishop is to encourage, and not to get in the way of the Holy Spirit.”

Collins and Prendergast hope they can bring some of the experience the Canadian Church has had in dealing with sexual abuse crises from Indian residential schools, Mount Cashel and other scandals over the last two decades.

“We’ve gone through some of the dark days, and we’ve come through and the Lord has blessed us,” said Prendergast. “We still have struggles; we still have work to do, but we’re hopeful.”

Collins will visit the Cashel and Emly archdiocese, while Prendergast has been assigned the Tuam archdiocese.

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