Northern Ireland

Irish bishops promise more support to abuse victims

irish bishops meet pope benedict
Image caption Pope Benedict met Irish bishops in Rome in 2010 to discuss their handling of clerical child abuse in Ireland

Victims of abuse within the Catholic church have been promised extra support from Irish bishops.

A document was given to mass-goers in NI on Saturday evening.

It updated them on what the bishops are doing to help victims and the ways they are improving child protection in the church.

Last March, Pope Benedict took the unprecedented step of writing a pastoral letter apologising to victims of Catholic Institutional Abuse.

Senior church officials were then sent to look at clerical abuse within the church in Ireland.

It was part of an apostolic visitation, announced by Pope Benedict in his pastoral letter.

To mark the first anniversary of the Pope's pastoral letter, Irish bishops have issued a "progress report" into what they are doing called 'Towards Healing and Renewal'.

A counselling service for victims and families will get an extra £9m in funding.

The church said it would provide more child protection training and would continue work closely with the police and social services over allegation of abuse.

Bishops will also set-a-side the first Friday of every month for prayer and fasting, to make amends for abuse and for the failure of leadership to respond to it effectively.

Representatives of victims of clerical abuse met with members of the apostolic visitation in January.

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