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Irish Cardinal Promises Openness

April 15, 2002

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) _ The head of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland issued an open letter Sunday promising greater openness in responding to allegations of child sexual abuse by priests.

Cardinal Desmond Connell praised those who have spoken out against pedophile priests and urged all victims to come forward.

``Only when we have full knowledge about what we are dealing with can we be sure that we have put in place all the necessary structures and procedures to respond as best as we can now and prevent recurrence in the future,″ he wrote in the letter, which was read aloud at masses in Dublin.

He said he regretted that complaints about child abuse by some clergy had been ignored for years.

In Northern Ireland, Patrick Walsh, the Bishop of Down and Connor, issued a similar letter, saying he shared the public’s confusion and bewilderment over abuse by priests and calling for greater openness.

Ireland’s Catholic bishops plan an internal investigation into sexual abuse within the priesthood and their own failure to respond to the problem.

More than two dozen priests and other Catholic officials have been convicted of molesting or raping children in Ireland in the past decade.

Bishops have been accused of transferring pedophile priests to new parishes rather than reporting them to police.

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