COMMUNIQUÉ AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE FIRST PHASE
(6 June 2011)
In accordance with the time-scale indicated in the Communiqué of 12 November 2010, the first phase of the Apostolic Visitation announced by the Holy Father in his Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland (19 March 2010), in order to "assist the local Church on her path of renewal" (par. 14), has now been concluded.
As indicated in the above-mentioned Communiqué, the Visitators set out to examine:
a) "whether the mutual relationship of the various components of the local Church, seminaries and religious communities is now in place, in order to sustain them on the path of profound spiritual renewal already being pursued by the Church in Ireland";
b) "the effectiveness of the present processes used in responding to cases of abuse";
c) "the current forms of assistance provided to the victims".
The Visitation to the four metropolitan archdioceses, the seminaries and the religious institutes has been very useful, thanks to the cooperation of everyone who took part in this initiative. The Holy Father’s sincere thanks goes to them, especially to the four Metropolitan Archbishops.
The Visitators’ Reports have been handed in to the competent Dicasteries of the Holy See. Individually, and in the context of interdicasterial meetings specially convened for the purpose and conducted in a constructive atmosphere, the Dicasteries in question have carried out an initial evaluation, from which it emerges that:
1) As far as the Irish dioceses and seminaries are concerned, the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for Catholic Education do not envisage further Apostolic Visitations. Having encountered various organizations and individuals, including the Suffragan Bishops, the Visitators have been able to arrive at a sufficiently complete picture of the situation of the Irish Church with respect to the areas under investigation.
2) The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life has analyzed the responses to the questionnaires that were sent to all Institutes with religious houses in Ireland. In accordance with the method previously adopted, visits in loco to some religious communities will follow.
3) In the coming months, the competent Dicasteries will give indications to the Bishops for the spiritual renewal of the dioceses and seminaries, and the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life will do likewise for the religious Institutes.
4) By early 2012, the Holy See will publish an overall synthesis indicating the results and the future prospects highlighted by the Visitation, not least with a view to the nationwide Mission announced in the above-mentioned Letter of the Holy Father.