The Vatican has released a report, published on Rome Reports, which was ordered by Pope Benedict XVI in the wake of the Murphy and Ryan inquiries into clerical sex abuse in Ireland.
The inquiry was carried out by the Apostolic Visitation to Ireland. It involved teams visiting all four Catholic archdioceses, seminaries and religious congregations.
The report acknowledges progress made by the Irish bishops in protecting children along with the “open wounds” left in the Catholic community. The bishops are fulfilling their promise to report new cases, however, it also commented on the profound lack of trust among the congregation and laid this blame on those priests who failed to report abuse in the past.
It said, “The archbishops... gave assurances that all newly discovered cases of abuse are promptly brought before the competent civil authority and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith."
The report also said that guidelines on how to deal with these sex abuse cases must be updated and “should be periodically examined”.
Although the Vatican rejects claims that celibacy could be responsible for deviant sexual behavior among the clergy, the report also included advice on how to prepare priests for a life of sexual abstinence.
Their report asked for the victim’s forgiveness and said the congregation’s well-being “is of paramount concern for the Church.”
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests' (SNAP) statement upon the release of the report said that it was “more about trying to restore a battered public image and the confidence of pained parishioners than about genuine reform.
“No institution can police itself, especially not an ancient, rigid, secretive all male monarchy with a horrific history of ignoring and concealing child sex crimes.”
Similarly, the One in Four group, who represent victims of sexual abuse by priests in Ireland, accused the Vatican of failing to accept responsibility for the cover-ups. They said the Vatican put the Church's reputation before the truth.
Their statement said, “its interventions in the abuse scandal allowed individual Catholic Church leaders in Ireland to ignore guidelines and to protect the good name of the Church at the expense of the safety of children."
Ireland’s Primate, Cardinal Sean Brady, said on Tuesday morning, “In expressing true sorrow and regret, we make our own the heartfelt plea for forgiveness from the victims, and from God, for these terrible crimes and sins.”
He said the Vatican’s report offered "a contribution to the on-going spiritual and moral renewal of the Church in Ireland" and offered "great encouragement" by noting that "in this time of trial" there are also "many clear signs of hope".