Irish Bishops Welcome Vatican Statement on Abuse

Give Conclusions of Spring General Meeting

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MAYNOOTH, Ireland, MARCH 10, 2010 ( As the bishops of Ireland continue confronting the scandal of priests’ sexual abuse of minors, they welcomed the Vatican’s Tuesday statement on the issue.

The Irish episcopal conference reported today on the conclusions of their spring general meeting. Among the many issues on the program, the prominent topic was that of abuse.

The prelates recalled their meeting last month with Benedict XVI — the Pope called all the Irish bishops to Rome to meet with him and other members of the Curia — saying it «allowed for a high level of information sharing and discussion around the forthcoming pastoral letter by the Holy Father to the faithful in Ireland.»

Referring to the Vatican’s statement on the scandals, the bishops said they welcomed «its timely publication and specifically its reference concerning survivors of abuse that ‘the correct starting point is recognition of what happened and concern for the victims and the consequences of the acts committed against them’ and also that ‘the Church exists as part of civil society and shoulders her own responsibilities in society.'»

The bishops’ communiqué also noted the Vatican’s reference to the 2001 Letter «De delictis gravioribus» [On grave crimes], and its affirmation that the document is «sometimes improperly cited as the cause of a ‘culture of silence.'»

The Irish prelates clarified: «It was made clear to the bishops in Rome that the 2001 Letter in no way precluded Church authorities from their civil obligations especially in regards to reporting and cooperating fully with the civil authorities. This important matter has been consistently misrepresented in some quarters.»

«De delictis gravioribus» — a document from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and thus signed by then prefect Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — explains that the sexual abuse of minors is so grave that the judgement of the cases is reserved to the Holy See.


In other matters, the Irish bishops took up the topic of the sanctity of marriage.

They announced they will publish a leaflet called «Marriage Matters,» which «expresses concern about aspects of the Civil Partnership Bill» being considered by Irish legislature.

The leaflet «reiterates the importance of the family as the natural primary and fundamental unit of society and therefore deserving of special protection by the state,» the bishops announced. «It also highlights that other forms of relationships are not of the same nature and status as that of marriage as the basis of the family.»

Finally, the bishops reported on preparations for the June 2010 Eucharistic conference to be held in Dublin.

They announced that «materials will start to become available by May of this year to help people to prepare for the celebration of Corpus Christi.»

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