Ireland can lead the world in the fight against child abuse, the Vatican’s chief prosecutor and leading expert on the issue has said.

Fr Robert Oliver, whose job as the Promoter of Justice in the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is to deal with abuse cases, recently visited Ireland. In an interview with the Irish Catholic, he said that the guidelines the Church in Ireland uses to tackle abuse are “really quite fine.”

“I’ve asked if they’d be interested in sharing these with countries who are not quite as far along,” said Fr Oliver.

“The missionary spirit of Ireland could be very helpful to us in bringing other parts of the world to where Ireland is.”

“It’s very encouraging for me to come to Ireland and see the very effective work that has been and is being done,” he said.

“What I’m taking away with me is the fact that the good work which is being done here can be shared with the rest of the world…the phrase everyone is using is ‘best practices’ and Ireland has a lot of best practice in this field.”

He added that the Church “might even begin to take a role of leadership, certainly without any pride: we have to do so humbly, we have to do so in a way which recognizes the real hurt that we’ve caused.

“Over the past 20 years in places like Ireland, the Church has done remarkable work to bring people together to see what is needed to respond effectively to this crime in our midst.

“Sexual abuse of children is an area that most people would prefer not to hear about; we’ve been forced to look at it. We can help others to see where abuse really happens, especially in the families. We have a role, you might even call it leadership where we can assist society as a partner to face this issue,” he said.

Fr Oliver even praised the media for its role in exposing abuse. “The notoriety that we have received in the Church is something that we can use. The notoriety is helping us keep the energy up.

“More and more, the Church can be a mirror to the wider society forcing people to face the issue of abuse.”