BRAINTREE – Following the Holy Father’s Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, the Apostolic Visitation of certain Irish dioceses, seminaries and religious congregations will begin in autumn of this year. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley has been named visitor of the Archdiocese of Dublin.
Through this Visitation, the Holy See intends to offer assistance to the Bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful as they seek to respond adequately to the situation caused by the tragic cases of abuse perpetrated by priests and religious upon minors. It is also intended to contribute to the desired spiritual and moral renewal that is already being vigorously pursued by the Church in Ireland.
The Visitation will begin in the four Metropolitan Archdioceses of Ireland (Armagh, Dublin, Cashel and Emly, and Tuam) and will then be extended to some other dioceses.
In a statement released by the Archdiocese of Boston May 31 Cardinal O’Malley welcomes the Holy Father decision.
“The Church must be unfailingly vigilant in protecting children and young people. Our ongoing efforts in the Archdiocese of Boston to ensure their safety will be helpful for the visitation. It will also be important to respond to the concerns of the Catholic community and the survivors in the manner that will promote the process of healing,” he said.
“The Holy Father’s letter to the Catholics of Ireland this past March made clear the priority of pastoral care and concern for all who have suffered from the sexual abuse of children by clergy and religious,” he said.
In a statement following the Vatican announcement, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin welcomed the nomination of Cardinal O’Malley as Apostolic Visitor to the Archdiocese of Dublin.
“Cardinal O'Malley's experience and personal commitment render him particularly suited to bring ecclesial solidarity to the faithful and the clergy of the Archdiocese of Dublin at this moment, in which the Church in Dublin addresses the truth of a dark moment in its history and undertakes a period of conversion, purification and renewal.”
The Visitors named by the Holy Father for the dioceses are: His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, Emeritus Archbishop of Westminster, for the Archdiocese of Armagh; His Eminence Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, for the Archdiocese of Dublin; the Most Reverend Thomas Christopher Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, for the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly; the Most Reverend Terrence Thomas Prendergast, Archbishop of Ottawa, for the Archdiocese of Tuam.
The Apostolic Visitors will set out to explore more deeply questions concerning the handling of cases of abuse and the assistance owed to the victims; they will monitor the effectiveness of and seek possible improvements to the current procedures for preventing abuse, taking as their points of reference the Pontifical Motu Proprio "Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela" and the norms contained in Safeguarding Children: Standards and Guidance Document for the Catholic Church in Ireland, commissioned and produced by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church.
In its desire to accompany the process of renewal of houses of formation for the future priests of the Church in Ireland, the Congregation for Catholic Education will coordinate the visitation of the Irish seminaries, including the Pontifical Irish College in Rome. While special attention will be given to the matters that occasioned the Apostolic Visitation, in the case of the seminaries it will cover all aspects of priestly formation. The Most Reverend Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, has been named Apostolic Visitor.
For its part, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life will organize the visitation of religious houses in two phases. Firstly it will conduct an enquiry by means of a questionnaire to be sent to all the Superiors of religious institutes present in Ireland, with a view to providing an accurate picture of the current situation and formulating plans for the observance and improvement of the norms contained in the "guidelines". In the second phase, the Apostolic Visitors will be: the Reverend Joseph Tobin, CSsR and the Reverend Gero McLaughlin SJ for institutes of men; Sister Sharon Holland IHM and Sister Mairin McDonagh RJM for institutes of women. They will carry out a careful study, evaluating the results obtained from the questionnaire and the possible steps to be taken in the future in order to usher in a season of spiritual rebirth for religious life on the Island.