Archbishop Dolan Urges Irish Priests to be Grounded in Holiness


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(31 May 10 - RV) On Monday, it was confirmed that the Apostolic Visitation of the Church in Ireland will begin this Autumn. It will involve the nation's four metropolitan diocese, seminaries and religious congregations.

In a statement released shortly after Monday's announcement, the standing committee of the Irish Bishops Conference pledged their full cooperation and greeted the Visitation as "an expression of the personal closeness of Pope Benedict XVI to the Catholics of Ireland, [that] represents one more important step on the path to healing, reparation and renewal in the Church in Ireland".

In a separate statement the Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, said he "looks forward to receiving the Formal document which will define the nature and the precise terms and objectives of the Visitation".

The Apostolic Visitation was first announced by Pope Benedict in his March Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, written in the aftermath of an extraordinary summit with all of the bishops of Ireland. It is part of a process called for by the Pope to address the shocking findings of the Ryan and Murphy reports into the abuse of children by religious and clergy in the last century.

Pope Benedict has named four senior prelates to visit the four Metropolitan Archdiocese in Ireland. They are Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster, Cardinal O'Malley, Boston, Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto, and Archbishop Terence Prendergast SJ, Ottawa.

The Apostolic Visitors, as they are known, are all of Irish origin and all have experience in investigating and responding to allegations of sexual abuse in their own countries.

Moreover the Pope has appointed Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York Visitor to the Irish seminaries, including the Pontifical Irish College in Rome.

While the main aim of the Visitation is to "explore more deeply questions concerning the handling of cases of abuse and the assistance owed to the victims"; another equally pressing matter is formation of future priests in Ireland.

Only last week Archbishop Dolan was in Ireland where he delivered a lecture on priesthood at the nation's Major Seminary, Maynooth. There he told the young men to be "grounded in holiness". He said that "To those who claim the problem is that.. Church teaching is too holy..too out of touch, I say the problem is lack of fidelity to it", "...holiness means wholeness and wholeness means integrity, and a man of integrity hardly abuses our youth or overlooks the crimes of those who do".