(Photo: Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern while discussing abuse report with journalists, 26 Nov 2009/Cathal McNaughton)
Ireland’s top Roman Catholic leaders will hold talks with Pope Benedict this week to formulate the Vatican’s response to an Irish government report on a 30-year cover-up of sexual abuse of children by priests.
Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the pope and top officials would meet Cardinal Sean Brady, head of the Irish Bishops Conference, and Diarmuid Martin, the archbishop of Dublin, on Friday.
The meeting was called to discuss and evaluate “the painful situation of the Church in Ireland” following the publication last month of the Murphy Commission Report. The rank of the participants — who will also include the Vatican ambassador to Dublin and top Vatican doctrinal officials — effectively makes it a rare summit about the problem of sexual abuse of children in the Irish Church.
There was no indication from the Vatican statement about what it could do to respond to the report, which said the Church’s prominence in Irish life was one of the reasons why abuses by a minority of priests were allowed to go unchecked.
One priest admitted abusing more than 100 children. Another said he had abused children every two weeks for over 25 years.