Irish Panel to Investigate Child Sexual Abuse

Will Study the Extent of the Problem

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DUBLIN, Ireland, JULY 8, 2002 (Zenit.org).- An independent commission has been set up to investigate the extent of child sexual abuse with the Church in Ireland.



Judge Gillian Hussey will chair the new commission which is being established jointly by the Irish Bishops' Conference, the Conference of Religious of Ireland (CORI) and the Irish Missionary Union (IMU), in the wake of scandals.

The commission's stated aim is to establish the truth about the extent of child sexual abuse within the Church and the response of Church authorities to complaints of such abuse.

The commission will conduct an "audit" as part of its overall review. The commission's principal Terms of Reference are:

--To examine what the bishop of each diocese and the religious superior of each participating religious congregation knew, respectively, about complaints of child sexual abuse against diocesan priests and religious, and to identify the steps taken by each in response to that knowledge.

--To quantify the extent of child sexual abuse by priests and religious and the responses made by bishops and religious superiors.

--To examine how bishops and religious superiors have implemented 1996 guidelines in relation to abuse cases.

--To learn how people who suffered as a result of child sexual abuse have experienced the response of Church authorities to their complaints.

The commission will comprise up to seven members, including the chairman, who will appoint the other members.

The panel will be formally established Sept. 2. It will be expected to produce an interim report by next Feb. 28 and a final report a year later. The Dublin-based commission will adopt its own methodology and be able to delegate work to external consultants.