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Accountability

Ireland confronts its sex abuse crisis

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Analysis

The recent government investigation into clergy sex abuse in Ireland, which produced a scathing critique of church officials and their role in attempting to protect the reputation of the institution at the expense of young victims, has resulted in the resignation of four bishops and sparked calls for cutting the number of dioceses in Ireland and for deep reform of the hierarchical culture.

The report of the government commission, headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy, severely criticized the church for being preoccupied with “the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal and the preservation of its assets.

“All other considerations,” said the report, “including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities. The archdiocese did not implement its own canon law rules and did its best to avoid any application of the law of the state.”

Second Irish bishop resigns over clerical abuse

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A second Irish bishop has resigned following a government report into the sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy.

Bishop Jim Moriarty submitted a letter of resignation Dec. 23. He is bishop of Kildare and Leithlin, southwest of Dublin. Moriarty was not directly criticized in the Murphy Report, but was a member of the Dublin archdiocese leadership for more than a decade before it put proper protections for children in place, he said.

Canadian bishop apologizes for clergy abuse

Editor's Note: This story corrects a story posted earlier to reflect that allegations involved people other than clergy.

OTTAWA, Canada -- Bishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Alexandria-Cornwall, Ontario, apologized for the clergy sexual abuse in his diocese and urged remaining survivors to come forward.

His public statement came as the Cornwall Inquiry, which looked into the response of public institutions to decades of sexual abuse allegations that first became public in 1992, was released at a Dec. 15 news conference.

Led by Normand Glaude, an Ontario court justice, the four-year inquiry offers more than 200 recommendations for public agencies and the church on dealing with abuse cases.

"We know that there were some appalling occasions a few decades ago when people in authority, including priests, sexually abused young people," Bishop Durocher told reporters. "I have had the occasion a number of times to listen first hand to the painful stories of survivors of sexual abuse and have been shaken by their testimony.

Progress doesn't always come easy

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Commentary

Recent talk about the Catholic church's role in politics reminds me of two great moments in church social teaching in the United States: the New Deal and the Civil Rights eras.

Both moments found the church embroiled in controversy, with strident cries that it did not belong in the public arena. The eventual rewards for the church's role were huge for society, but came at a cost for the church.

The same, unfortunately, remains true today.

Irish bishops apologize for 'depravity of abuse'

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DUBLIN, Ireland -- The Irish bishops have apologized as a group for clerical abuse of children and agreed to work with the government to set up a mechanism to ensure that abuse allegations are properly handled.

The bishops suspended normal business at their winter general meeting in Maynooth to consider the findings of a special commission investigating the handling of clerical abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin. That report, published Nov. 26, described a "scale and depravity of abuse" that "deeply shocked" the bishops, they said in their statement, issued Dec. 9.

Irish bishops called to Vatican about abuse report

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VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI has asked the president of the Irish bishops' conference and the archbishop of Dublin to come to the Vatican to discuss "the painful situation of the church in Ireland" following a report detailing the church's failures in addressing clerical sexual abuse.

Irish press reports said Bishop Donal Murray of Limerick was expected to resign in the wake of the Dublin report's criticism of his "inexcusable" handling of an investigation of a pedophile priest.

Bishop Murray the only still-active bishop listed in the Murphy Report, was said by several sources to be already in Rome to meet with Vatican officials.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the pope's meeting with Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland, president of the Irish bishops' conference, and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin would take place Dec. 11.

The spokesman said the meeting would include the nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, and the heads of several Vatican offices dealing with sex abuse and related issues.

Mercy sisters pledge $191 million to abuse victims

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DUBLIN, Ireland -- Ireland's Sisters of Mercy have pledged to contribute an additional 128 million euros ($191 million) to compensate victims of abuse in government schools and orphanages run by the order.

That equals the amount that 18 religious orders -- including the Sisters of Mercy -- agreed to pay under terms of a 2002 deal with the Irish government.

Bridgeport diocese unseals 12,600 pages of court documents

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After years of legal wrangling and after unsuccessfully taking its argument all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, on Dec. 1 the Bridgeport, Conn., diocese unsealed nearly 12,600 pages of documents dealing with three decades of child molestation accusations against diocesan priests.

The files, including a deposition of then Bishop Edward Egan, the recently retired cardinal of New York, were part of lawsuits filed against six priests in the Bridgeport diocese, five of whom were eventually banned from ministry and one who died. The lawsuits were settled in 2001.

The diocese, which covers some of the wealthiest towns in the country as well as Bridgeport, Connecticut’s largest city, has paid nearly $38 million over the years to settle abuse claims involving allegations by more than 60 people who said they had been molested by priests.

Jason Tremont, one of the attorneys for the clergy abuse victims, said the documents “confirm the mishandling and cover-up of sex abuse claims” by Egan and his predecessor, Bishop Walter Curtis.

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