Irish Bishops´ Statement on Sex-Abuse Cases

Plan for Independent Audit Approved

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DUBLIN, Ireland, APRIL 8, 2002 ( The Irish Bishops´ Conference released this statement today in the wake of sexual-abuse scandals involving priests. The bishops met earlier in a day in an extraordinary meeting in Maynooth.

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Following the justifiable anger and distress that have been highlighted in recent days and which have caused great pain and shame to the whole Church in Ireland, we convened an extraordinary general meeting today.

We felt a real sense of urgency about the need to establish the full truth about how complaints of child sexual abuse have been dealt with in dioceses. At today´s meeting we adopted the proposal made last Friday by Archbishop Sean Brady and Desmond Cardinal Connell to carryout an independent audit.

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 precise means by which the audit can be most effectively carried out are under consideration. The terms of reference are being drawn up and will be announced at a follow-up meeting. The consultations as to who will conduct this audit are ongoing.

We are also considering the best means of extending the brief of the Child Protection Office which we set up last year under the direction of Mr Paul Bailey.

These measures are practical concrete steps in our continuing efforts to help victims. Child abuse leaves deep scars on victims and we want to help victims to heal these scars. Knowing the truth is part of this healing. This is a painful time for all of us — lay people, priests, religious and bishops. However we all must acknowledge that the victims are those who have suffered and continue to suffer the greatest pain.

We again express our deepest apologies for inadequacies in our response to that pain.

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