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'I am truly sorry': Pope finally apologises for decades of child abuse in Irish Catholic Church


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'I am truly sorry': Pope Benedict apologises for decades of child abuse in Irish Catholic Church



By Daily Mail Reporter

Last updated at 4:39 PM on 20th March 2010





Pope Benedict XVI today addressing Ireland to apologise for chronic Catholic child abuse


Pope Benedict today told victims of clerical child abuse in Ireland he was 'truly sorry' for their suffering.

In a pastoral letter to be read out at weekend masses across the island, the pontiff admitted some bishops had made grave errors of judgment in dealing with paedophile priests.

But he stopped short of directly addressing well-documented cover-ups by senior clergy in recent decades, and at least one abuse survivor said the Pope's comments did not go far enough.


While intended for the Irish faithful, the letter - the first of its kind to tackle clerical child abuse - will also have meaning for other countries hit by revelations, including the pontiff's native Germany.


'I can only share in the dismay and the sense of betrayal that so many of you have experienced on learning of these sinful and criminal acts and the way Church authorities in Ireland dealt with them,' the Pope told abuse survivors.

'You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry.'

In the much-anticipated letter, Pope Benedict acknowledged that many victims who were brave enough to speak out found no one would listen.

The pontiff admitted there had been 'a misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal, resulting in failure to apply existing canonical penalties and to safeguard the dignity of every person'.

He said decisive action was needed to restore Irish people's respect and goodwill towards the Church and called for the clergy's continued co-operation with civil authorities in addressing child abuse.

'In order to recover from this grievous wound, the Church in Ireland must first acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenceless children,' he added.



Under-fire Cardinal Sean Brady, Primate of all Ireland, gives out the pastoral letter to parishioners at St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh this morning


'Such an acknowledgement, accompanied by sincere sorrow for the damage caused to these victims and their families, must lead to a concerted effort to ensure the protection of children from similar crimes in the future.'

The pontiff also expressed willingness in his letter to meet with victims.

Revelations of decades of sickening abuse and subsequent cover-ups have rocked the Irish Catholic Church to its foundations.


The unprecedented note comes as head of the Catholic Church in Ireland Cardinal Sean Brady continues to resist calls to resign over his handling of historic abuse allegations that saw victims sign confidentiality deals.

The under-pressure primate, who has previously said he would take a period of time to reflect on his future, issued the letter to morning mass-goers at St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh.

'In the name of the Church, Pope Benedict openly expresses the shame and remorse that we all feel about the abuse that has occurred,' the cardinal told the congregation.

'Throughout the letter Pope Benedict talks about the need for healing, repentance and renewal.


A copy of the pastoral letter from Pope Benedict to Catholics in Ireland at the Vatican today


'He expresses the depth of the pain that has been caused and acknowledges that some people find it difficult even to go inside the doors of a church after all that has occurred.'

Cardinal Brady urged people to read the letter with an open heart and in a spirit of faith.

'No one imagines that the present painful situation will be resolved quickly,' he added.

'Yet with perseverance, prayer and working together in unity, the Holy Father says we can be confident that the Church in Ireland will experience a season of rebirth and spiritual renewal.'

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin welcomed the pastoral letter as a further step in the Church's renewal and healing process.


'I welcome the Pope's expression of apology and his recognition of the suffering and betrayal experienced by survivors,' he said.


'The Pope recognises the failures of Church authorities in how they dealt with sinful and criminal acts.'


In his letter the pontiff expressed willingness to meet victims and said there would be 'apostolic visitation' of some Dioceses.


He also told religious figures who had abused children to answer for their actions before properly constituted tribunals.


But abuse survivor Andrew Madden said the words were too little, too late.


'We don't need to be told it was a crime or a sin,' he said.


'The apology today is not for the cover-up, it's for the abuse and for the most part they didn't commit the abuse but they caused some because of the cover-up.


'That's the bit they should say sorry for.'

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