.- Pope Benedict XVI will meet with the Catholic bishops of Ireland in a private audience at the Holy See in February, according to news reports. The two-day meeting has been called to address the current situation of the Church in Ireland.
On Wednesday The Irish Catholic reported that the meetings would be convened from Feb. 15 - 16. Citing Vatican sources, the newspaper claimed that the agenda will include discussions between the bishops of Ireland, the Pope and members of the Roman Curia regarding the cases of clerical sex abuse made public in the Murphy Report last Nov. 26.
According to The Guardian, "all" of the bishops of Ireland have been summoned to the Holy See to take part in the discussions.
Martin Long, spokesman for the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference, referred CNA to the Vatican for confirmation of the meeting. Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi confirmed the existence of the plans for the meeting on Wednesday, according to Vatican Radio.
In the meantime, the Irish Catholic Bishops' Conference has announced an extraordinary meeting for Jan. 22 to discuss ongoing issues concerning the Commission of Investigation (Murphy) Report into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin and to prepare for the arrival of the Pastoral Letter from Pope Benedict XVI to the Irish Church.
According to "The Irish Catholic" the Papal Letter will be read to Irish faithful in Mass on Feb. 17, Ash Wednesday.
On Dec. 11, the Primate of the Irish Catholic Church, Cardinal Sean Brady, and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin met with Pope Benedict XVI regarding the matter. The Pope expressed at that time that he was "deeply disturbed and distressed" after having studied the Murphy Report. Four Irish bishops have submitted their resignations since its publication.