Pope's meeting with clerical sex abuse victims prompts renewed call for Northern Ireland inquiry

Amnesty International has welcomed today’s comments by Pope Francis regarding child sex abuse by priests and called for an inquiry into such abuse in Northern Ireland.

In his homily at a private mass for six invited victims in the Vatican today, Pope Francis expressed his “sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you”, and declared that bishops would be held accountable for failures to protect minors.

Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director Patrick Corrigan said:

“The Pope’s words remind us of the atrocious abuse suffered by countless children over many decades at the hands of clerics in Northern Ireland.

“We know that in Northern Ireland there was widespread sexual abuse of children by clerics, and a subsequent cover-up of that abuse by bishops - including through the deliberate movement of abusive priests from parish to parish and across borders.

“More than a year ago, Amnesty provided the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister with information on clerical child sex abuse in Northern Ireland and publicly backed victims’ calls for an independent investigation. One year on, there has still been no meaningful response from ministers.

“There have been multiple inquiries into clerical child abuse in the Republic of Ireland - a similar inquiry into clerical abuse in Northern Ireland is long overdue. Ministers must deliver that investigation and, given the Pope’s welcome words today, the public is entitled to expect full cooperation by the Church.”

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