World

Pope names child abuse investigators

Pope Benedict XVI has named investigators — including the archbishops of Boston, Toronto, Ottawa and Westminster, England — to probe child abuse in the Irish Catholic Church to begin in the fall, the Vatican says.

Canadian archbishops among those selected for Irish probe

Pope Benedict XVI has named investigators — including the archbishops of Boston, Toronto, Ottawa and Westminster, England — to probe child abuse in the Irish Catholic Church to begin in the fall, the Vatican said Monday.

Pope Benedict XVI leads the angelus prayer from a window of his private apartment at the Vatican on Monday. ((Tony Gentile/Reuters) )

Benedict had pledged the investigation in his March letter to Ireland, which addressed chronic child abuse within the island's Catholic Church and decades of coverups.

On Monday he urged the Irish Catholic community to support the investigation and see it as a chance for renewal, the Vatican said.

Also on Monday, the Vatican announced the Pope had accepted the resignation of an Irish-born archbishop who had led the diocese of Benin City 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 had been suspended. He was the latest prelate to fall amid the church abuse scandal, as Benedict has moved to clean house and get rid of bishops who either admitted they molested youngsters or covered up for priests who did.

The investigation in Ireland will deal with the handling of cases of abuse and the assistance to victims. It will begin in four archdioceses, including Dublin, and then be extended to other dioceses, the Vatican said in a statement. But it will also look at seminaries and religious houses.

The nine investigators, or "apostolic visitors" as the Vatican describes them, will look at the procedures currently in place to prevent abuse and seek ways to improve them.

The Vatican said the investigation is intended to help bishops, clergy and faithful alike respond to the "tragic cases" of abuse and "to contribute to the desired spiritual and moral renewal that is already being vigorously pursued by the church in Ireland."

Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, has been named apostolic visitor for the Irish seminaries, with the investigation covering also the broader issue of priestly formation. Two nuns were named to investigate religious institutes for women.