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Byline: Paul Bailey

THE VATICAN was slammed yesterday when it emerged that it told the Catholic Church in Ireland to cover up horrific child sex abuse.

The secret orders from Pope John XXIII in 1962 outraged victims of clerical abuse.

The explosive documents were only discovered recently. Paul Bailey, Executive Director of the Church's Child Protection Office, responds.

IN the light of the current negative publicity concerning the 1962 Vatican Document Crimen Sollicitationis, I welcome the opportunity to outline the positive child protection initiatives undertaken by the Irish Church in recent years.

Since the early 1990s the Irish Church has been addressing the issue of clerical child sexual abuse.

In 1994, the Bishops' Conference established an Advisory Committee to identify guidelines for responding to allegations or suspicions of child sexual abuse against priests or religious.

This committee produced a report in January 1996, Child Sexual Abuse: Framework for a Church Response, which outlined procedures for a Bishop or Religious Superior on receipt of a complaint of child sexual abuse.

This report was fully adopted by the Bishops' Conference. It also included a recommended reporting policy as follows: "In all instances where it is known or suspected that a child has been, or is being, sexually abused by a priest or religious, the matter should be reported to the civil authorities.

"Where the suspicion or knowledge results from the complaint of an adult of abuse during his or her childhood, this should also be reported to the civil authorities."

In effect the Bishops adopted a policy of mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse at a time when the state had, and still has, a system of obligatory reporting.

Following the publication of the 1996 guidelines, a National Resource Group was established to facilitate their implementation across dioceses.

THIS group provided training to designated people (delegates) whose function is to receive complaints regarding child sexual abuse against priests or religious. There are currently 51 delegates throughout the 26 dioceses in Ireland.

In 1999, the Bishops' Committee on Child Abuse was formed.

Comprised of lay professionals, clergy and religious, its primary function was to liaise closely with the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (Laffoy Commission).

It also had the role of recommending "best practice" developments in child protection to the Bishops' Conference.

At the end of 2000, the committee recommended the establishment of a Child Protection Office reporting to a National Committee on Child Protection.

This recommendation was endorsed by the Bishops' Conference and the Child Protection Office was established in July 2001. …