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New report to reveal level of clerical abuse

Thousands of children were raped and abused by Catholic priests, many of them serial offenders in the Dublin diocese over a 30-year period, a shocking report on clerical sex abuse will reveal next month.

The scale of the abuse between 1975 and 2004 was revealed yesterday by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, who urged his priests and Catholic lay people to receive the damning report with “humility”.

Archbishop Martin said that since he took over the running of the country’s biggest diocese five years ago, he had read secret files which he handed over to the Murphy Commission — those behind the report — and had heard the tragic personal stories of victims.

From published statistics and from listening to victims, it was possible, he said, to name and identify at least 500 paedophile priests.

But he warned that because a number of these identified priests were serial abusers “the numbers of victims must be going into thousands”.

“This is a sad thing to say,” added the former diplomat, who was appointed by the late Pope John Pope II five years ago to clean up the clerical sexual abuse scandals that devastated the period in office of his predecessor, Cardinal Desmond Connell.

Addressing the Holy Thursday Chrism Mass in Dublin’s Pro-Cathedral, Archbishop Martin said that the full horror of decades of physical, sexual and psychological torture of children has not been recognised.

“It is likely that thousands of children or young people across Ireland were abused by priests in the period under investigation and the horror of that abuse was not recognised for what it is,” he said.

A senior church source told the Irish Independent that the report of the Government-appointed Commission of Investigation into the Archdiocese of Dublin was likely to be published in “the next four to six weeks time”.

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