Catholic Church in Ireland to undergo ‘major’ restructuring

.- Irish Catholics can expect "major reorganization" within the Church following the meeting between the Pope and Irish prelates on Friday regarding child sexual abuses by clergy in the Archdiocese of Dublin, according to an article published in the Irish Times. It is not yet known how far reaching these structural changes will be.

Archbishop of Armagh Sean Cardinal Brady and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin attended a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI, papal nuncio to Ireland Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, and other leaders from Vatican dicasteries to voice concerns and discuss solutions following the Nov. 26 release of a report detailing the sexual abuses of priests in the archdiocese.

Cardinal Brady, the Primate of All Ireland, told The Irish Times it was a "good meeting" with the Pope and expressed his regret to "be back here again to discuss the painful question of child sexual abuse."

In a statement released Friday afternoon after the meeting, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his intention to address the Irish faithful in a pastoral letter that will "clearly indicate the initiatives that are to be taken in response to the situation." There was no indication of when that Papal correspondence can be expected, but with the sense of urgency surrounding the issue within the Irish Church it will likely be sometime soon.

Archbishop Martin told the Times that the pastoral letter could include measures for "a very significant reorganization of the Church in Ireland."

He also told the News Daily on Friday, "I really think we need a renewal."  

Efforts in that direction, he added, will include "working very hard on the question of child protection," a renewal of parish life and the involvement of more lay people within the organization of the Irish church.

There will also be some changes within the Catholic hierarchy.  The resignation of the Bishop of Limerick Donal Murray is expected as a result of his involvement in covering up the abuses.

It is unclear if any other bishops will be stepping down at this time. According to the Times, Archbishop Martin has written to Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Dublin Dermot O'Mahony, asking him not to carry out confirmations in the coming year and not to be part of the diocesan administration “in any way."

The archbishop also asked Bishop O’Mahony to distance himself from the Irish Pilgrimage Trust, which takes disabled children to Lourdes each year at Easter. The bishop resigned on Dec. 6.

More specific details of how the archdiocese will address Irish Catholics in the coming days are not yet known, but members of the communications corps from the Irish Catholic bishops' conference are "on-call" awaiting instructions from the prelates upon their return from Rome, a communications officer with the bishops' conference told CNA.

The officer said that she would not expect a statement from the archdiocese until Monday.


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