The Vatican released a statement yesterday announcing plans to assist dioceses in Ireland that are still reeling from the clerical sexual abuse revelations that came last year with the Ryan Report.
This includes the appointment of Cardinal Sean P O’Malley of Boston to assist in the Archdiocese of Dublin, the largest of the dioceses in Ireland that is still recovering from the shocking disclosure of the extent of clerical abuse in Ireland.
The “apostolic visitors” include Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, former Archbishop of Westminster, for the Archdiocese of Armagh, Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, for the Archdiocese of Dublin; the Most Reverend Thomas Christopher Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, for the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly and the Most Reverend Terrence Thomas Prendergast, Archbishop of Ottawa, for the Archdiocese of Tuam.
They will act as “apostolic visitors” around Ireland. Their role, according to the Vatican’s statement, will be to “offer assistance to the Bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful as they seek to respond adequately to the situation caused by the tragic cases of abuse perpetrated by priests and religious upon minors. It is also intended to contribute to the desired spiritual and moral renewal that is already being vigorously pursued by the Church in Ireland.”
While remaining on in their own positions, the Cardinals and Archbishops will take on further responsibilities, including exploring “more deeply questions concerning the handling of cases of abuse and the assistance owed to the victims.”
They will also “monitor the effectiveness of and seek possible improvements to the current procedures for preventing abuse.”
For Cardinal O’Malley, who will take the position of “apostolic visitor” for the Archdiocese of Dublin, this will be the fourth time in his career that he had been asked to intervene in a diocese that has been severely damaged by clerical sexual abuse.
In 1992, he was sent to Fall River to deal with a diocese bowled over by the serial sexual abuse of Rev. James R. Porter. In 2002, he was named bishop of Palm Beach where the two previous bishops had admitted to abusing children.
Then, in 2003, he was named archbishop of Boston. He replaced Cardinal Bernard F. Law who resigned having been criticized for his failure to remove abusive priests from their positions.
The Cardinal issued his own statement about his new appointment.
He said, “The Church must be unfailingly vigilant in protecting children and young people. Our ongoing efforts in the Archdiocese of Boston to ensure their safety will be helpful for the visitation. It will also be important to respond to the concerns of the Catholic community and the survivors in the manner that will promote the process of healing.”
The Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, issued a similarly hopeful and positive statement. The statement said the Dr. Martin welcomed the appointment of Cardinal O’Malley to the Dublin diocese.
It said he welcomes his “experience and personal commitment render him particularly suited to bring ecclesial solidarity to the faithful and the clergy of the Archdiocese of Dublin at this moment, in which the Church in Dublin addresses the truth of a dark moment in its history and undertakes a period of conversion, purification and renewal.”