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Abuse is a travelling wave says top Irish cleric in Rome

The Irish priest who heads up Vatican investigations into allegations of abuse has said he’d like to see more transparency in dealing with victims and their families.  “If I had a child who was abused by a priest, I would want to know the status of the case.”  “It’s a question that’s discussed in the office, it’s something to have in mind for the future, but not too distant of a future,” he said.

Monsignor John Joseph Kennedy from Dublin is Secretary of the Disciplinary Section of the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF), and is one of the Holy See’s leading authorities when it comes to investigating instances of clerical abuse and handing out punishments for abusers.

Mons Kennedy confirmed that Cardinal Fernández, after his appointment as prefect, only handles doctrinal cases such as heresy, apostasy and schism, and that “he leaves to me and the disciplinary section to handle the cases in which there is abuse of minors,” which is something he said comprises around 77 percent of the dicastery’s cases.

Italy, he said, is currently “in the top ten” countries in the world due to the number of abuse cases coming to light, but that this will likely change going forward.

In his comments to journalists, Kennedy described the abuse crisis as “a wave” that travels and touches different coasts.

Twenty years ago, this wave touched places such as the United States, Canada, Ireland, and several European countries, and “now it is touching Italy, India, the Philippines, Africa, and some countries in Latin America,” he said.

In another 20 years’ time, Kennedy said Italy will likely no longer be in the top 10, “due to the efforts we are seeing at every level of society. In every diocese, and in every religious order, we are truly seeing an effort to combat this thing.

“I want to have all cases brought to light, so that the Church can be transparent, a source of light, a sign of hope, and a sign of life,” Kennedy said, saying a high number of cases is a good thing, “because people find the courage to report.”

Mons Kennedy spoke at a May 29 event titled “Abuse of minors: A reading of the Italian context (2001-2021),” which was organized jointly by the Italian Embassy to the Holy See and the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI).


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