Bishops urge the abused to speak up
More than 20 priests north and south of the Irish border are facing criminal charges arising from sex abuse allegations.
An official church report has recommended school-based programmes to encourage children to say no to adults attempting to abuse them. The report, commissioned in the wake of the sex abuse scandals, also called for special information days to be arranged in Catholic schools.
The bishops in their report said that the police should be immediately informed about any known or suspected cases of abuse.
Proposed school-based programmes would encourage more children who are still keeping their experiences secret to come forward. The bishops said a debt of gratitude was owed to the children who had originally come forward to reveal the abuse they suffered.
But they argued against the idea that priests who had abused should not be cared for, saying the church was founded on a message of love and forgiveness which meant that those who had offended could be helped towards regeneration.