Northern Ireland

Irish Archbishops go to Rome for Church inquiry

Cardinal Sean Brady
The Catholic Primate of Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady will lead the Irish archbishops to Rome

The four Catholic archbishops of Ireland are due to travel to Rome next week ahead of the special inquiry into sexual abuse in their archdioceses.

The inquiry, known as the Apostolic Visitation, was announced by Pope Benedict in March in his pastoral letter to Catholics in Ireland.

The archbishops are to meet the Pope's team of inspectors which includes Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor.

The visitation is expected in the autumn.

The delegation heading to Rome will be led by the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, Archbishop of Armagh.

He will be joined by the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Dermot Clifford, and Michael Neary, the Archbishop of Tuam.

The Church said the purpose of the Apostolic Visitation was "to offer assistance and to contribute to the spiritual and moral renewal of the Church in Ireland".

The papal letter was issued in the aftermath of two damning reports into the Church's handling of child sex abuse allegations.

The Ryan report, pubished in May last year, found that Church leaders knew that sexual abuse was "endemic" in Catholic-run boys' institutions in the Republic of Ireland.

It also found physical and emotional abuse and neglect were features of the institutions.

In November 2009, the Murphy report into child abuse in the Dublin archdiocese criticised the Catholic hierarchy for covering up decades of abuse.

It found that the Church placed its own reputation above the protection of children in its care and said that state authorities facilitated the cover-up by allowing the Church to operate outside the law.

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