New Irish guidelines cover abuse-accused priests’ funerals

When a priest accused of sexual abuse dies, care should be taken as to how his funeral is conducted, new Irish child protection guidelines say.

The National Board for Safeguarding Children published updated guidelines on Wednesday.

They give recommendations if an accused priest dies before an investigation has concluded.

In such a case, “careful thought should be given by the Church authority to the way the requiem liturgy and interment is conducted”.

“Publicly praising the respondent’s qualities as a priest could have a seriously detrimental impact on complainants.”

Some of the content of the new guidelines was reported by the Irish Times.

The guidelines state that when the Church decides to announce a priest is standing aside from ministry due to allegations, a presumption of innocence should be emphasised.

“Confidentiality is required, and advice will be needed on what can be shared, by whom and with whom.

“Parishioners cannot be told everything, but they do need an explanation for the sudden unavailability of the priest for a period.

“What they are told should be the truth.”

The preferred approach is for any public communication to be agreed with the “respondent”.

The guidelines reiterate the inviolability of the confessional.

While “all suspicions, concerns and allegations of child abuse must be reported to the statutory authorities”, the guidelines state that “there is one exception to this rule”.

That is “if abuse is disclosed during the sacrament of Reconciliation”, the documents state.

The guidelines stated that there must always be available “confessionals with a fixed grate between the penitent and the confessor in an open place, so that the faithful who wish to can use them freely”.

However, where abuse is admitted by a perpetrator or alleged by a child/young person in the confessional, the guidelines direct that a priest should strongly advise them to report this to statutory authorities.

Sources

News category: World.

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