Pope tackles Irish sex abuse scandal

Ireland’s Roman Catholic bishops
are holding a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI at the Vatican to discuss their
response to a child sex abuse scandal.

In a report issued last year the
Church admitted covering up abuse for decades.

At a Mass in Rome before the
meeting one of the Vatican’s top cardinals called the abuse “abominable”.

Four bishops criticised for failing
to address concerns about abuse have already resigned. But victims say more
must be done to restore public trust.

Last year, a report was highly
critical of the Dublin Archdiocese’s handling of priests who were suspected sex
abusers.

The Murphy Commission laid bare a
culture of concealment where Church leaders prioritised the protection of their
own institution above that of vulnerable children in their care, and often
failed to pass on details to the police.

The Pope has said he is
“disturbed and distressed” by the report and shares the
“outrage, betrayal and shame” felt by Irish people.

The Vatican Secretary of State
Tarcisio Bertone called the sexual acts committed against children
“particularly abominable”.

He said the scandal was
“humiliating” but that the Church must face the challenge.

“Every kind of challenge can
become a reason for purification and sanctification as long as it is illuminated
by faith,” he said.

Armagh Archbishop Sean Brady, the
primate of all Ireland, told Vatican Radio that the two days of meetings were
part of a “journey of repentance, reconciliation and renewal”.

The Report of the Commission of
Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin – the Murphy report –
published in November, found the Church had “obsessively” hidden
child abuse from 1975 to 2004, and operated a policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell”.

Four out of five key bishops who
were particularly criticised have now resigned, but the fifth, Bishop of Galway
Martin Drennan, is expected to meet the Pope.

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