Pope offers apology to Irish catholics

Pope Benedict released his long awaited pastoral letter to the Irish Catholic Church that addresses the scandalous behavior of clergy and the hierarchy in that county as more information regarding the sexual abuse of children is coming to light. The eight page letter contains what is described as a passionate apology. But there are no specific disciplinary actions mentioned.

The New York Times has extensive coverage:

“Nowhere in the letter did Benedict address the responsibility of the Vatican itself. Many victims’ groups have criticized the Vatican for not recognizing the depth and scope of the abuse crisis sooner. Nor did he use the term punishment, or spell out any consequences for clergy or bishops who had not upheld canon or civil law. Indeed, he laid blame firmly with Irish Catholic leaders.

[…]For many Catholics, the letter offered a critical test of whether the pope can stem a widening crisis that has shaken the credibility and authority of the Roman Catholic church in other parts of the world, challenging the Vatican to end a culture of secrecy and cover-up permeating its cloistered hierarchy.

There’s a problem though for the victims in both the lack of the specificity in the response and a sense that the Vatican is not recognizing the systemic nature of the problem which extends beyond Ireland:

Colm O’Gorman, the co-founder of a victims’ group called One in Four, who is now currently the head of Amnesty International in Ireland, was one victim of sexual abuse by a priest when he was a young teenager between 1981 and 1983 in the south-east of Ireland.

After reading the pope’s letter on Saturday, he said he was ‘concerned that there is still no full acknowledgment of the systematic institutional cover-up which is not restricted only to Ireland.’

‘Clearly the pope is trying to restrict it to the Irish church and they are speaking only to the Irish church. I find that deceitful because we know that this is a global and systemic problem in the global church. It’s all about protesting the institution and, above all, its wealth,’ he said in a telephone interview.”

Read the full article here.

More coverage:

The abuse scandal is the fault of liberals” (A particular passage is highlighted in the Spectator.)

Oliver Kamm on the scandal in response to criticism that his papers coverage of the scandal constituted a hate campaign against the Vatican..

Johann Hari who writes on how religious scandals like this cause us to think hard about the intersection of religion and secular society. (h/t to Thinking Anglicans)

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