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Europe

Pope urges Irish clergy to 'restore credibility' after child sex scandal

Video by Fiona CAMERON

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-02-16

Pope Benedict XVI met with with Irish bishops to discuss the revelations that Catholic Church authorities systematically protected pedophile priests. In closing remarks, he urged Irish bishops to "restore the credibility of their church".

AFP - Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday urged Irish bishops to "restore the credibility" of the Roman Catholic Church rocked by a paedophilia priest scandal, the Vatican said.
  
The pope said the bishops must give priority to "restoring the Church’s spiritual and moral credibility" on the second of two days of talks with the bishops, the Vatican said in a statement.
  
The bishops vowed to cooperate with Irish courts to bring to justice priests who have abused children, the statement said.
  
The pope faulted "the failure of the Irish Church authorities for years to act effectively over cases of sexual abuse against young people."
  
The pope and some two dozen Irish bishops went behind closed doors on Tuesday to discuss the fallout from the latest of a series of such scandals to rock the Church, which the Vatican described as a "hard and humiliating challenge".
  
The Irish delegation was led by Cardinal Sean Brady, primate of all Ireland, who in December met Benedict along with Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin over the crisis in mainly Catholic Ireland after two shocking judicial reports.
  
Vatican experts said the level of attention to the scandal -- with two meetings scheduled on Monday and a third on Tuesday -- was unprecedented.
  
One priest admitted to sexually abusing more than 100 children, while another accepted that he had abused minors on a fortnightly basis over 25 years.
  
Repeated revelations of paedophile priests have rocked the Church in recent months following major scandals in the United States and Australia.
  
Ireland's crisis was followed in January by a scandal in Germany, where an elite Jesuit school in Berlin admitted repeated sexual abuse of teenagers by teachers in the 1970s and 1980s.
  
The Irish scandal is a "hard and humiliating challenge," Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone said during a mass ahead of Monday's talks.
  
"Challenges that come from within (the Church) are naturally harder and humiliating," Bertone said in his homily.
  
"Every kind of challenge can become a reason for purification and sanctification as long as it is illuminated by faith.
  
"Such is the serious challenge facing your communities, which see men of the Church involved in particularly execrable acts," he said.
  
Four Irish bishops tendered their resignations over the scandal but only that of former Limerick bishop Donald Murray, who was deputy bishop of Dublin from 1982 to 1996, was effective as of the Vatican visit.
  
One of the four, James Moriarty of Kildare and Leighlin, was at the talks Monday.
  
Brady told Radio Vatican that the meetings had been "very carefully" prepared and were "but one step on a very long road."
  
He added: "When we return home, we hope this will launch a process of repentance, renewal and reconciliation for everyone's good."
  
The Vatican said Benedict, 82, planned to issue a pastoral letter to Ireland's Catholics over the scandal.
  
The letter will be aimed at "restoring confidence" among Irish Catholics and to offer "concrete and effective" ways to prevent a recurrence, a Vatican expert wrote in the leading Italian daily Corriere della Sera.
  
But an Irish anti-abuse campaigner said Monday that the pope should visit Ireland and meet personally with victims of paedophile priests as he did in the United States and Australia.
  
Christine Buckley, an abuse survivor herself, said on Irish radio that the pope should apologise in Ireland to "victims of institutional and clerical abuse, given that many of the (Irish) abusers went to countries such as Australia, such as America, where they continued their abuse."
  
The pope plans to visit Britain in September.
  
Irish abuse victim support groups meanwhile wrote an open letter to the pope calling for the resignation of bishops "who engaged in this culture of cover-up."
  
The groups, including One in Four -- named to highlight data suggesting that a quarter of Irish youngsters suffer sexual abuse before the age of 18 -- said the "distress, anger and frustration" experienced by survivors has been "enormous."
  
"The lives of thousands of Irish people have been devastated by sexual abuse by priests," the letter said.
  

Date created : 2010-02-16

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