100 Dublin priests accused of abuse

The full extent of child abuse scandals threatening the Roman Catholic church in Ireland has emerged in a study by the archdiocese of Dublin which reveals that more than 100 of its priests have faced paedophile accusations since 1940.

The report, which constitutes the most serious admission by a senior cleric in the republic, has been published before a judicial committee of investigation is expected to begin taking evidence this month on the handling of complaints by the church. More than 350 children are said to have been sexually or physically abused in that period.

Commenting on the figures, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said it might be necessary to sell property to meet compensation bills and that sacrifices would have to be made to set right past injustices. "It's very frightening for me to see that in some of these cases, so many children were abused. It's very hard to weigh that up against anything," said Archbishop Martin, a former Vatican diplomat who was appointed in 2003.

"On the other hand, I know that the vast majority of priests don't abuse, that they do good work, that they're extremely upset and offended by what's happened."

The Catholic archdiocese of Boston was nearly bankrupted by a paedophile scandal three years ago. Its archbishop, Cardinal Bernard Law, was forced to resign and the ensuing compensation settlement cost the American archdiocese £67m. The archbishop's palace was sold and dozens of parishes forced to close.

Archbishop Martin's report shows that 105 civil actions have been brought against 32 priests in Dublin. Nearly two-thirds have been resolved and 40 are being pursued. The cost of settlements so far is €5.8m (£4m). The diocese has invested a further €2.5m in its child protection services, reports Guardian Unlimited.

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