Pope Benedict announced in March that he was planning to send a high-powered delegation to Ireland in the wake of the devastating reports into the Church’s often gross mishandling of allegations of sexual abuse made against priests and religious orders.
Much of the groundwork for the visit is believed to have been worked on over the summer.
The Irish Catholic has confirmed that Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh, Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop Dermot Clifford of Cashel & Emly and Tuam’s Archbishop Michael Neary will travel to Rome in the first week of October for the key meeting.
It is expected that the investigation, known in Church language as an Apostolic Visitation, will begin soon afterwards.
The visitation will be led by three cardinals and three archbishops as well as a number of priests and religious sisters and will report directly to the pope on their findings.
It is believed that the Irish archbishops will meet with the designated visitors and the relevant Vatican congregations to finalise details of the visit and how it will be co-ordinated. The visitation will begin in the four Metropolitan Archdioceses of Ireland: Armagh, Dublin, Tuam, and Cashel & Emly, and will be extended to “some other dioceses”.
The archdioceses will be visited by Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor for Armagh, Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley for Dublin, Archbishop Terrance Prendergast of Ottawa for Tuam, and Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto for Cashel and Emily.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York will lead in inquiry in to Irish seminaries which will focus on St Patrick’s College, Maynooth and Rome’s Pontifical Irish College.
There will also be a review of religious congregations with Archbishop Joseph Tobin, CSsR, who was recently appointed to the Vatican’s congregation for religious, and Fr Gero McLaughlin SJ visiting male religious congregations. Sr Sharon Holland IHM and Sr Mairin McDonagh RJM will visit institutes of women religious.