Bishops Awaiting Green Light on New Child Abuse Policy
By John Cooney
February 20, 2006
THE Vatican has not yet given the go-ahead to the Irish Bishops to implement fully their updated child protection policy following the Government Inquiry into clerical child sexual abuse in the diocese of Ferns, according to the Archbishop of Dublin.
Dr Diarmuid Martin has told the Irish Independent that loose ends have still to be tied up before the Irish Episcopal Conference can fully implement its blueprint, 'Our Children, Our Church'.
Dr Martin's comment flatly contradicts a report in last Saturday's 'Irish Daily Mail' that the Vatican had already approved the children's charter which was published in December.
This landmark policy document, when finally approved by Rome, would provide for the appointment of a professional lay expert who would be responsible for informing the gardai and health authorities of child sex-abuse allegations against a cleric.
But bishops and religious superiors would retain the discretionary right of satisfying themselves beforehand that complaints were grounded on "reasonable" evidence.
This stipulation has angered anti-abuse campaigner, Colm O'Gorman, director of the One in Four Victims' group, as a circumventing by church authorities of automatic referral of any allegation to the civil authorities.
It is understood that the Vatican is still studying whether the transfer of ultimate responsibility from bishops to a lay expert is in accord with canon law which governs ecclesiastical decision-making within the worldwide Church.
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