Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
December 21, 2009
Vatican says pope outraged by sex abuse in Ireland
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict shares "the outrage, betrayal and shame" felt by Irish Catholics over cases of clerical sexual abuse and the way abuse claims were handled by Church leaders, the Vatican said.
The pope plans to write a pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland that "will clearly indicate the initiatives that are to be taken in response to the situation," said a Vatican statement issued Dec. 11.
The statement was released after the pope and top Vatican officials spent 90 minutes meeting with Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland, president of the Irish bishops' conference, and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin.
Brady said the pope's letter, expected early in January, will outline several initiatives, including public services of repentance for Irish bishops and priests.
"I asked him, in my opening remarks, to teach us, to help us be better shepherds of the people, to lead us on the way of repentance and so, therefore, there will be suggestions about celebrations of lament and repentance involving, first of all, us bishops and priests," the cardinal told reporters.
Calling a papal pastoral letter to one nation's Catholics "quite a significant document," Martin said it would be the beginning of a whole process aimed at "a very significant reorganization of the Church in Ireland."
"The climate in the Church," which allowed abusers to go unpunished, will only change once there is a renewal, a willingness to publicly accept responsibility for one's actions and greater involvement by laypeople in all areas of Church life, the archbishop said.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said Pope Benedict approved the statement summarizing the meeting and it "obviously reflects his style and tone" in discussing revelations about clerical sex abuse.
Pope Benedict, the statement said, "was deeply disturbed and distressed" by the contents of a report by an independent Commission of Investigation, headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy, which looked at the handling of some 325 abuse claims in the Archdiocese of Dublin in the years 1975-2004.
The report concluded that during those years, rather than being concerned about the victims, Catholic leaders were more interested in "the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church and the preservation of its assets."
Martin said it was obvious during the meeting that the pope was deeply ashamed by the report's depiction of clerical sexual abuse of children and the lack of action by Church leaders.
PRAYER FOR VICTIMS
Describing acts of clerical sexual abuse as "heinous crimes," the statement said Pope Benedict asked Catholics to join him in praying for the victims.
"The holy father shares the outrage, betrayal and shame felt by so many of the faithful in Ireland, and he is united with them in prayer at this difficult time in the life of the Church," it said.
Lombardi said Pope Benedict "does not want this swept under the carpet," but wants the Church to deal with the problem and, in the letter he will write, will indicate ways that could be done.
The Jesuit said the pope's letter would not be "just a letter of consolation or regret," but would try to help the Church in Ireland move forward while ensuring that such a betrayal of its mission would never occur again.
Irish news agencies reported that Bishop Donal Murray of Limerick, the only still-active bishop listed in the Murphy Report, had travelled to Rome earlier in the week to meet with Vatican officials and suggested his resignation is imminent.
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