Reactions to Pope Benedict’s letter to the Irish church expressing “shame and remorse” at child abuse there have been flooding in. He has also ordered an official Vatican inquiry. They are the most concrete steps yet taken in Rome to tackle the worldwide scandal.
Pope Benedict said he understood victims’ sense of betrayal at the way the Irish church had dealt with what he called “sinful and criminal acts”.
The Irish government’s own report into the church has revealed, among other things, one priest abusing over 100 children, while another committed acts of abuse every two weeks for 25 years.
“The Pope has not acknowledged in any way the role of the Catholic church in covering up the sexual abuse of children,” said victim Andrew Madden. “It’s a very wholesome apology, but the apology is about the abuse committed by other people and doesn’t make any reference to the cover-up by the catholic church.”
He is not alone in saying the Pope’s unprecedented eight-page letter does not go far enough. It was read out by the head of the church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, at a Saturday mass in Northern Ireland. Victims want him to take responsibility and resign, and those guilty of abuse to be sacked.
Many do not understand why priests and bishops implicated in the scandal are not resigning, nor why there is nothing in the letter recognising widespread calls in Ireland for a radical restructuring of the church – or what they claim is negligence or worse on the part of the Vatican itself.