Vatican City: Bishops who will meet Pope Benedict over a paedophilia scandal that has shaken devoutly Catholic Ireland will acknowledge the "enormous injustice and cruelty" inflicted on the victims, a participant said on Sunday.
The Monday and Tuesday meetings, the first of their kind at the Vatican in eight years, will discuss a plan for action and could lead to more prelates resigning in a shake-up in the Irish Church hierarchy. Four have already quit.
Benedict, 24 Irish bishops and top Vatican officials will hold three sessions in response to outrage in Ireland over the Murphy Commission Report, a damning indictment of child sex abuse by priests in the country.
"This is not just a cosmetic exercise," one of the prelates, Bishop Joseph Duffy of Clogher, told a news conference at the Irish seminary in Rome on Sunday.
The bishops would acknowledge "the failure on the part of all of us" to be vigilant against abuse and express their commitment to try to rectify "the enormous injustice and cruelty" that victims have suffered, he said.
The Vatican said in December that the pope will write to the Irish people about the crisis -- the first time a pope will have devoted a document solely to the clergy's abuse of children.
"We're asking for Pope Benedict to restore the honour to Ireland which was so severely damaged by these scandals," said John Kelly, founder of Irish Survivors of Child Abuse.
The report, published in November, said the Church in Ireland had "obsessively" hidden child abuse in the Dublin archdiocese from 1975 to 2004, and operated a policy of "don't ask, don't tell”.
It said all Dublin bishops in charge during the period under study had been aware of some complaints, but the archdiocese had been more preoccupied with protecting the reputation of the Church than safeguarding children.
Four bishops have offered their resignations and the pope has so far accepted one of them. Victims group One in Four called on other bishops throughout Ireland who engaged in this "culture of cover up" to step down.
One in Four also complained that the Vatican and its ambassador to Ireland "saw fit to hide behind diplomatic protocols to avoid co-operating with the Murphy Commission." The Vatican said the commission had "not gone through the appropriate diplomatic channels."
First Published: Monday, February 15, 2010, 10:16