|Pope Benedict XVI acknowledges the crowd during his weekly general audience, in Paul VI Hall, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2010. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)|
Vatican probing Irish church response to scandal
VATICAN CITY—The Vatican said Friday it is moving ahead with its own investigation of how the Catholic church in Ireland is responding to its massive sex abuse scandal, promising it will be sweeping but will not interfere with ongoing probes by magistrates or a parliamentary commission.
It said its team of top prelates hopes was hoping to see victims and their families "who have been deeply wounded by abuse and who wish to be met and heard," citing Pope Benedict's XVI's meetings with victims on some of his foreign trips.
First announced by the pope in an extraordinary letter to Irish Catholics in March, the probe is not an investigation of individual cases or "a trial to judge past events" but an effort to verify the effectiveness of the church's response to the scandal and its assistance to victims, the Vatican said.
Child-abuse scandals have caused enormous shock in Ireland, a once-devoutely Catholic nation. Since 2002, a government-organized compensation board has paid out more than euro800 million to 13,000 people abused in church-run residential institutions for children.
One team of prelates will examine four archdioceses, with Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston assigned to Dublin. Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York will examine Irish seminaries. A third team, including two nuns, will examine convents and religious houses.
The Vatican said it wants the investigation, known as a visitation, to be finished by next Easter. After its review of the results, the Vatican said it will issue a "comprehensive summary."
The Vatican stressed that the visitation will not interfere with probes by local magistrates or the work of the commissions of investigation established by the Irish parliament or replace the authority of local bishops.
It said the Vatican investigators are not expected to receive allegations of new or old cases of abuse, which it said should be reported to the local bishops and then to the competent civil and church authorities.
The Vatican said it wants to sustain Irish church institutions "on the path of profound spiritual renewal."