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Irish Sex Abuse Report Criticizes Catholic Church Handling of Allegations

A panel convened by the Irish government has released a report outlining failures by both the Roman Catholic Church and the state to protect children from sexual abuse over a 40-year period, provoking ire and leading to calls for an end to the close church-state relationship that characterizes Irish public life, reports the New York Times. The nearly 300-page “Ferns Report” is the result of a three-year investigation into 100 claims of sexual abuse against 21 priests in the Ferns diocese. According to the Times, the report has been widely praised by victims’ advocacy groups for breaking the tradition of silence with its analysis of the failures of both the Church and the government to address allegations of sexual abuse.

The Times reports that 95 percent of Irish elementary schools receive state funds while they are run by the Catholic Church. The report outlines the failure of the police and public health officials to respond adequately to allegations of abuse, given the influence the Church has in Irish society. The Ferns report also notes the influence of the Vatican on the failure of the Irish Church to adequately respond to the allegations, reports the Times.

While the report is highly critical of the Ferns diocese, it also cites the procedures now in place to protect children as a potential model for other dioceses. Following the publication of the Ferns report, the Irish government has approved a new inquiry into allegations of sex abuse in the Dublin archdiocese, reports Reuters.

Sources:

The Ferns Report 10/05; Reuters11/8/05; The New York Times 11/13/05