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Pope asks Irish bishops for honesty and courage to deal with sex abuse crisis

2010-02-16

Card. Sean Brady (Ireland)
President of the Irish Episcopal Conference

Pope Benedict has said, the heart of this, is a renewal of faith because faith ultimately is the real and true protector of human dignity and that is the dignity of every human being.”

The scandal involves child molestation cases that were made public after the release of two governmental reports last year. According to the Ryan Report, members of the clergy were involved in more than 1500 abuse cases that dated back to the 1930’s. While the Murphy Report revealed 325 similar cases involving priests between 1975 and 2004.

The Murphy Report, cited some of the bishops and authorities covered up the crimes in an effort to avoid a scandal. In fact, 4 bishops who admitted to their lack of leadership presented their resignation letters in December.

Over the last two days, the Irish Bishops and the pope met behind closed doors. The bishops gave their take on the crimes. One of the issues raised was how Canon Law is a long and slow process.

The bishops also promised the pope they would collaborate with civil authorities to bring these cases to justice.

P. Federico Lombardi
Vatican Spokesperson

"They also emphasized their commitment to cooperation with the statutory authorities in Ireland – North and South – and with the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland to guarantee that the Church’s standards, policies and procedures represent best practice in this area."

During the meeting with the pope, the bishops also got a look at the Pope Benedict XVI’s pastoral letter he’s drafting to the Irish Church. The letter addresses how to combat the issue and how to make sure these crimes don’t happen again.

Bishop Denis Brennan
Diocese of Ferns (Ireland)

Primarily it is geared toward the victims but it does understand that this has grown to such great proportions it affects the whole country so all different levels of Irish society, it’s become a national issue.”

Card. Sean Brady (Ireland)
President of the Irish Episcopal Conference

As one of the victims told us the only way we will regain that credibility would be through our humiliation that is what we are set out to do, tomorrow is the beginning of Lent and time of penance and we must begin with ourselves.”

The pope will include some of the points raised by the bishops during the last two days in his letter. The letter is expected to be published before Easter.

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