Vatican members to meet with abuse victims and families

MEMBERS of the Vatican’s Apostolic Visitation investigation into clerical abuse will be available to meet with abuse victims and their families.

The Vatican confirmed yesterday that such contact would form part of the terms of reference agreed for the investigation.

Pope Benedict announced the Apostolic Visitation last March. This followed his meeting in February with the Irish Bishops to discuss the fall-out of the Murphy report, which is a year-old later this month.

That independent report was commissioned by the government to investigate the way in which the church dealt with allegations of sexual abuse of children by priests over the period 1975 to 2004.

It concluded that the Dublin Archdiocese’s pre-occupations in dealing with cases of child sexual abuse, at least until the mid 1990s, were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church, and the preservation of its assets.

The report added that all other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities.

The Vatican has stated that the Apostolic Visitation team will be available to meet with victims of abuse and their families and anyone who wishes to speak with them.

The Vatican said the aim of the visitation is to establish that the present processes in place to deal with abuse are effective.

The statement added this will in no way interfere with the authority of bishops or civil authorities.

The Apostolic Visitation will not handle new cases of abuse or old, but will relay them onto the civil authorities.

They also added that they will not investigate individual cases of abuse nor are they there to try past events.

“The visitors will have to identify the explicit problems which may require some assistance from the Holy See,” the statement added.

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