The elderly Irish priest at the center of the worst child abuse allegations mentioned in the Cloyne Report is facing an internal church investigation that could see him defrocked.

Known only by the pseudonym Father Ronat he is expected to face a formal canonical review early in 2012.

The church investigation will send canon lawyers to interview each of the individuals who claimed they were sexually abused by the priest, and they will also hear his version of events.

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According to a report in the Irish Independent, the canonical review will take several months to conclude, and it could recommend to the Vatican that Father Ronat be laicized or defrocked.

Several of Father Ronat's alleged victims have already indicated their willingness to participate in the church review, but others have balked at it citing their criticism of the church's original handling of their abuse complaints.

The Vatican authorities will determine if Father Ronat will be allowed to perform all future priestly duties.

Complaints against 19 clerics were examined as part of the Cloyne report, with just one of the clerics convicted.  A number of the clerics have died, whilst others had prosecutions initiated against them that failed to secure convictions.

Father Ronat, who lives in Ireland, has never been convicted of a sexual offense.

The Cloyne Report found that former Bishop Magee left the issue of child protection entirely to his vicar-general Monsignor Denis O'Callaghan, and that both men failed to ensure that recommended measures were properly implemented. Both Bishop Magee and Monsignor O'Callaghan have apologized over their failings.