Pope Benedict XVI has appointed nine prelates, including the archbishops of Boston and New York, to investigate child abuse in Ireland’s Catholic institutions.
The pope urged the Irish church to support the investigation, saying it could be a chance for hope and renewal. In a March letter to the Irish faithful, Benedict had promised an investigation that addressed chronic clerical child abuse in Ireland and decades of cover—ups by church authorities.
Also yesterday, the Vatican announced the pope had accepted the resignation of an Irish—born archbishop who had led the Benin City diocese in Nigeria and faced accusations that he carried on a 20—year relationship with a woman that began when she was 14.
Archbishop Richard Burke, 61, had been suspended. He was the latest bishop to resign amid the church abuse scandal, as Benedict moves to get rid of bishops who either admitted they molested youngsters or covered up for priests who did.
Child-abuse scandals have caused exceptional trauma in Ireland, a once devoutly Catholic nation. An Irish government collapsed in 1994 amid arguments over its failure to extradite a paedophile priest to Northern Ireland. Since 2002, a government-organised compensation board has paid out more than $ 983 million to 13,000 people abused in Ireland’s church-run residential institutions for children.