12 Dec 2009

Pope orders shake-up of disgraced Irish Church

10:54 am on 12 December 2009

The Pope has ordered a major re-organisation of Ireland's Roman Catholic Church a month after a government investigation exposed a church cover-up of the sexual abuse of children by priests.

The announcement was made after Pope Benedict XVI summoned Irish church leaders to Rome, the BBC reports.

The Vatican said the Pope shares the "outrage, betrayal and shame" felt by Irish people over a report that said clerical child abuse in Dublin was covered-up for 30 years.

In a statement after the meeting, the pontiff was said to be "disturbed and distressed". He will write a pastoral letter to the Irish people about sexual abuse and the Vatican's response to the crisis.

The Pope summoned the Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, to Rome after the Vatican was criticised for failing to respond to the Murphy inquiry.

The Murphy report, published two weeks ago, laid bare a culture of concealment within the Dublin archdiocese and found that four consecutive archbishops prioritised the church's reputation above the welfare of children who were being physically and sexually abused.

Instead, paedophile priests were moved from parish to parish, free to repeat their actions.

Cardinal Brady says he is "deeply sorry and ashamed" at the abuse of children described in the report.

Archbishop Martin was praised by victims for his willingness to co-operate with the inquiry which was ordered by the Irish government, unlike his four predecessors who had failed to report paedophile priests to civil authorities.