Pope Benedict XVI said Wednesday he would sign a long-awaited letter to Irish Catholics voicing his "deep concern" over Ireland's paedophile priest scandal. Abuse scandals have swept through several European Catholic churches.
AFP - Pope Benedict XVI said Wednesday he would sign a pastoral letter to Ireland's Roman Catholics about the paedophile priest scandal that has rocked their country.
Voicing his "deep concern" over the crisis, the pope told his weekly general audience at the Vatican that he would sign the long-awaited letter "dealing with this painful situation" on Friday and would send it "soon after."
"In recent months, the Church in Ireland has been severely shaken as a result of the child abuse crisis," the 82-year-old pontiff said in English to Irish pilgrims attending the audience on Saint Patrick's Day.
Revelations of widespread child abuse by clergy, compounded by evidence of a cover-up by the Church hierarchy, rocked the Irish Catholic Church late last year.
Since then, new abuse scandals have swept other European Catholic churches, including those of Austria, The Netherlands, Switzerland and the pope's native Germany.
Irish Catholics have been anticipating Benedict's pastoral letter since it was mooted in December, when the pope met with primate of all Ireland Cardinal Sean Brady and Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin over the crisis.
Brady, facing calls to resign over his role in the scandal, apologised on Wednesday.
Notably, he attended meetings in 1975 at which children allegedly abused by one of Ireland's worst serial paedophiles were asked to take a vow of secrecy.
"I want to say to anyone who has been hurt by any failure on my part that I apologise to you with all my heart," he said.
The pope called a second meeting over the scandal last month, summoning Brady, Martin and 22 other bishops to the Vatican and urging them to restore the Church's "spiritual and moral credibility."
The Vatican has faced sharp criticism over its handling of the Irish scandal.
"It is clear that the most senior levels of Catholic institutions remain unable to take responsibility for their collusion with the abuse of children in Ireland," said Fiona Neary, executive director of Ireland's Rape Crisis Network, in February.
On Wednesday, the pope said of the upcoming pastoral letter: "I ask all of you to read it for yourselves, with an open heart and in a spirit of faith. My hope is that it will help in the process of repentance, healing and renewal."
Date created : 2010-03-17