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Irish bishops apologise over sex abuse handling

In releasing a report that acknowledged the church's past failures, the Irish bishops have apologised for their handling of child sex-abuse cases.

Bishop John McAreavey of Dromore said the 332-page report, released on Thursday, was an "act of sorrow" and "openness."

"For what has happened we are truly sorry, and while we cannot undo the wrongs of the past, we can use this research to help us deal with victims of abuse with understanding, compassion and sensitivity," said Bishop McAreavey, who spoke at the news conference releasing the report.

The report, commissioned by the church two years ago, made 19 recommendations for protecting children, handling complaints from alleged victims and training and supporting priests to prevent future abuse.

"In the light of the report's recommendations, we are committed to improving upon our existing policies and the processes which currently operate to deal with this issue," Bishop McAreavey said.

Archbishop Sean Brady of Armagh, president of the Irish bishops' conference, said the report "tells a very complex and tragic story of deep hurt, and trust betrayed."

Archbishop Brady, in apologising to the victims of clergy sex abuse, said the church failed in its "pastoral responsibilities" in handling the cases.

"We hope that this report can be a useful part of the telling of the story, and that it will help to ensure that the next chapters are of healing and reconciliation. We hope that someday those who have been abused and harmed will feel able and be ready to forgive. Until that day we will continue to work to restore people's trust in the church," the archbishop said.

Irish bishops apologize over church's handling of sex-abuse cases (Catholic News Service 5/12/03)

Bishops welcome RCSI report into child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy (Catholic Communications Media Release 4/12/03)
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland | Launch of Book on Clerical Child Sexual Abuse in Ireland | Executive Summary (PDF)
Irish Catholic Church Rapped Over Abuse in Survey (Reuters/Yahoo 5/12/03)
Priest tells of his hell as abuse victim (Belfast Telegraph 5/12/03)

8 Dec 2003