Irish bishops have been hauled before Vatican chiefs in the wake of devastating child abuse scandals, it was revealed today.
The 24 senior clergymen will hold face-to-face talks with Pope Benedict and his senior officials on February 15 and 16.
It comes as bishops prepare for a special conference in Maynooth this week to discuss the fall-out from the Murphy Report and a promised pastoral letter from the Pontiff to Irish Catholics over the abuse revelations.
Four bishops dramatically resigned last month after the Murphy inquiry unveiled a catalogue of paedophilia and subsequent cover-ups over three decades by the Catholic hierarchy in Dublin.
All-Ireland Primate, Cardinal Sean Brady and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin met the Pontiff in Rome last month, when he expressed his distress over the findings and promised the pastoral letter.
The Murphy Report came just six months after the Church was rocked by the findings of the Ryan Report, which detailed decades of sickening abuse of thousands of children in orphanages and reform schools by religious orders.
The meetings, revealed by the Irish Catholic newspaper, are expected to discuss the Church’s response to the inquiries although Vatican sources refused to speculate on them.
Last month Auxiliary Bishops of Dublin Eamonn Walsh and Raymond Field bowed to weeks of intense pressure and announced at Christmas Eve services that they were quitting their posts.
They were the latest senior clerics to stand down after Bishop of Kildare and Leighlin James Moriarty and Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray resigned over the damning Murphy report.