Church in Ireland launches sex abuse enquiry
The Irish Catholic Church has appointed a retired judge to oversee an investigation of its record in handling sex-abuse allegations but said many internal disciplinary records already had been destroyed.
Archbishop Sean Brady said Gillian Hussey, a 65- year-old former judge, would have total freedom to appoint the rest of her seven-person commission. It was expected to begin investigating in September, publish its first report by February and its final recommendations in 2004.
''The purpose of the commission is to establish the truth about the extent of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in Ireland, and the response of church authorities to complaints of such abuse,'' Brady said.
''I am convinced that the work of the commission will remove the uncertainty which has undermined the confidence and trust of the laity in the church,'' he said.
Brady said many internal documents on reported abuse cases had been destroyed in line with past church practice. He also predicted that some accused figures would turn to the Vatican for legal protection, though he hoped more would confess their sins.
''It is true, of course, they have rights under canon law, but I would also hope they appreciate that this is a serious matter for the church and will understand our efforts to arrive at the truth,'' he said.
Hussey, who has a reputation for outspokenness, open-mindedness and energy, retired earlier this year as a criminal and civil-court judge.
The church says she should identify the extent of abuse in each of Ireland's 26 dioceses and examine, case by case, what bishops and other supervisors knew and what actions, if any, they took. Some allegations go back to the 1950s.
Catholic Church Commission on Child Sexual Abuse Announced (Catholic Communications, Ireland)
Judge Gillian Hussey (BBC interview)
2 Jul 2002