Ireland's Apostolic Visitation Concludes Phase 1

Full Report Expected Early 2012

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 6, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The first phase of the investigation into sexual abuse by clergy in Ireland has drawn to a close, with no further apostolic visits to dioceses or seminaries planned.

The Vatican announced today that a full report on the results of the apostolic visitation will be published in early 2012.

The communiqué reported that the visitors have turned in their reports to the various Vatican dicasteries involved, which have subsequently evaluated them.

“As far as the Irish dioceses and seminaries are concerned, the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for Catholic Education do not envisage further Apostolic Visitations,” the Vatican announced. It noted that the visitors have already “been able to arrive at a sufficiently complete picture of the situation of the Irish Church with respect to the areas under investigation.”

The statement clarified that the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life will follow the methodology already adopted, meaning dicastery officials have evaluated the questionnaires sent to all institutes with religious houses in Ireland, and visits to some of these communities will follow.

The Vatican is to give guidelines for spiritual renewal to bishops and religious in the coming months, the communiqué confirmed.

Gift

Just last week, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin expressed his “impatience” about the results of the visitation.

In an address last Thursday to international delegates helping to prepare the 2012 Eucharistic congress, which will be held in Dublin, the archbishop said: “I am impatient to learn about the path that the Apostolic Visitation will set out for renewal for the Irish Church so that our renewal will move forward decisively. At the same time I am also becoming increasingly impatient at the slowness in the process which began over a year ago. This is not a criticism of the Holy Father. It is an appeal to his collaborators.”

Archbishop Martin’s words came in the context of his reflection on the great change in Irish culture in recent decades, which he described by saying that “the secularization of Irish culture is very advanced.”

In such a context, he noted that the Pope’s “commitment to the Irish Church is remarkable.”

“I have experienced only support from him in my mission through his teaching and his personal support,” the prelate said.

“The pace of the change in Irish religious culture is such that the longer the delay in advancing the fruits of the Apostolic Visitation, the greater the danger of false expectations and the greater the encouragement to those who prefer immobilism to reform, and the greater the threat to the effectiveness of this immense gift of the Holy Father to the Irish Church,” the archbishop added.

Roadmap

Benedict XVI announced the apostolic visitation in a letter to the Catholics of Ireland of March 19, 2010.

The visitors had three points to examine:

— whether the mutual relationship of the various components of the local Church, seminaries and religious communities is now in place, in order to sustain them on the path of profound spiritual renewal already being pursued by the Church in Ireland

— the effectiveness of the present processes used in responding to cases of abuse

— the current forms of assistance provided to the victims

— — —

On ZENIT’s Web page:

Vatican statement on conclusion of Phase 1:

Nov. 12, 2010, Vatican statement on the visitation: www.zenit.org/article-30937?l=english

On the Net:

Benedict XVI’s March 19, 2010, letter to Catholics of Ireland: www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/letters/2010/documents/hf_ben-xvi_let_20100319_church-ireland_en.html

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