Pope Benedict XVI has told Irish
Roman Catholic bishops sexual abuse of children by priests is a “heinous
crime”, the Vatican says.
The Pope summoned the 24 bishops to
the Vatican to discuss their response to a child sex abuse scandal.
He said Irish bishops had to face
the scandal with courage and resolve, and act to restore the Church’s
Last year the Irish Church admitted
covering up abuse for decades.
Two state-ordered reports revealed
how abuse was rife in many Catholic-run children’s institutions in the Republic
of Ireland, and how priests who were accused of abuse were just moved by
bishops to new parishes.
Investigators found that Church
officials compiled confidential files on more than 100 parish priests accused
of sexual abuse, but that the files were kept secret.
Victims of abuse have accused the
Church of putting its own reputation ahead of concern for abused children.
The Vatican released a statement
saying: “For his part, the Holy Father observed that the sexual abuse of
children and young people is not only a heinous crime, but also a grave sin
which offends God and wounds the dignity of the human person created in his
“While realising that the
current painful situation will not be resolved quickly, he challenged the
Bishops to address the problems of the past with determination and resolve, and
to face the present crisis with honesty and courage.”
The Vatican also said that the
Irish bishops promised to co-operate with civil authorities, “to guarantee
that the Church’s standards, policies and procedures represent best practice in