Irish Bishop: No Resignations On Agenda With Pope

By: Frances D'Emilio - AP Writer
By: Frances D'Emilio - AP Writer

ROME (AP) - Irish bishops one-by-one will give an accounting to Pope Benedict XVI of their views, actions or knowledge about decades of sexual abuse by clergy, a participant said Sunday, but resignations were not on the agenda for the Vatican's extraordinary summit over the scandal.

"A casualty of all this has been the truth," Clogher Bishop Joseph Duffy said on the eve of the two-day summit. "The fullness of the truth must come out, everything must be laid on the table."

Duffy, a spokesman for the Irish Bishops Conference, said the church was "admittedly slower than in needs to be" in grappling with a "culture of concealment."

Last year, an investigation revealed that church leaders in Dublin had spent decades protecting child-abusing priests from the law while many fellow clerics turned a blind eye. A separate report in Ireland had been released months earlier documenting decades of sexual, physical and psychological abuse in Catholic-run schools, workhouses and orphanages.

The revelations shocked and disgusted the predominantly Catholic nation, and victims quickly demanded certain Irish bishops resign. Several have agreed, including two who stepped down on Christmas Day, but others have flatly refused.

Among the 24 bishops at the summit will be Martin Drennan of Galway, who has rebuffed calls that he stepped down.

Duffy said the Monday-Tuesday summit with the pope was not intended to deal with the issue of resignations.

"Precise questions of resignation is not on the agenda of the bishops because that is not our prerogative," Duffy told reporters.

He said the summit would deal with the "enormous injustice and cruelty" to the victims and the Irish faithful at large.

In the Dublin report, investigators determined that a succession of archbishops and senior aides had compiled confidential files on more than 100 parish priests who had sexually abused children since 1940. The files had remained locked in the Dublin archbishop's private vault.

The reports follow a campaign by the archbishop of Dublin and primate of Ireland, Diarmuid Martin, to confront abuse allegations and deal honestly with the cover-up and victims' suffering. Martin, who heads the Holy See's office on justice, had welcomed the bishops' resignations last year.

But Galway's Drennan, insisting he did nothing to endanger children, has clung to his office.

Drennan and the other summit participants will each have seven minutes to have their say before the pope, who will listen to the Irish prelates in group sessions on Monday and Tuesday.

Among the Holy See officials joining the summit is U.S. Cardinal William Levada, who heads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a key Vatican office that reviews abuse claims against clergy worldwide. The pope himself once held the office, when he was known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

Asked how explicit the bishops' discussions with Benedict would be, Duffy said they would be frank.

"It is my information that the pope is very well clued in on this issue, that even before he became pope he had access to the documentation, and that he know exactly what was in the documentation, and that he wasn't living in a fool's paradise," Duffy said.

Benedict has signaled he intends to purify the priesthood and, while still a cardinal, had denounced "filth" in the church as the abuse scandals exploded during the papacy of John Paul.

During Benedict's 2008 pilgrimage as pope to the United States, he met privately with sexual abuse victims.

In recent weeks, a new sexual abuse scandal involving clergy has stained the Catholic church in Benedict's homeland, Germany.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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