Northern Ireland

Vatican names clerical abuse inquiry panel

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor
Image caption The inquiry panel includes Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor

Details of a special inquiry into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Ireland have been announced by the Vatican.

The Apostolic Visitation, as it is known, was first announced by Pope Benedict in a letter to the Catholics of Ireland in March.

Five senior prelates have been named as members of the inquiry panel.

They include Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, retired Archbishop of Westminster and Cardinal O'Malley, Boston, USA.

The others are Archbishop Timothy Dolan, New York, Archbishop Thomas Collins, Toronto, and Archbishop Terence Prendergast SJ, Ottawa.

The men are all of Irish descent and have played a leading role in investigating and responding to allegations of sexual abuse and Church mishandling of abuse in their own countries.

In his letter, the Pope said he would send teams of inspectors to some Irish dioceses, to seminaries and to Irish religious orders to investigate how far they had strayed from the new rules laid down by Rome to try to curb the flood of cases of alleged priest paedophilia reaching the desks of Vatican officials during the past decade.