The Church's high stated standards had also led on in part to the Ann Lovett tragedy and the Kerry Babies case in 1984.
A series of television documentaries in the 1990s and 2000s, such as "Suffer the children" (UTV, 1994), Suing the Pope or The Magdalene Sisters, led on to the need for a series of government-sponsored reports and new guidelines within the Church and society to better protect children.
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Among the nine members of the apostolic visitation were Cardinal Seán Patrick O'Malley, the Archbishop of Boston (he investigated the Archdiocese of Dublin); Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, the Archbishop of New York (he investigated the issue of proper priestly formation and visited the seminaries), two nuns (who investigated women's religious institutes and the formation there), Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster, England; Archbishop Terrence Thomas Prendergast of Ottawa, Canada; and Cardinal-Archbishop Thomas Christopher Collins of Toronto, Canada.
One of the most widely known cases of sexual abuse in Ireland involved Brendan Smyth, who, between 19, sexually abused and assaulted 20 children in parishes in Belfast, Dublin and the United States.
The investigation of the Smyth case was allegedly obstructed by the Norbertine Order.
By 2010 a number of in-depth judicial reports had been published, but with relatively few prosecutions.
In March 2010 Pope Benedict XVI wrote a pastoral letter of apology for all of the abuse that had been carried out by Catholic clergy.