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CURRENT ISSUE:  February 22, 2010
VOL. 48, NO. 4   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page story
 
CCEB expanding Food Stamp Outreach

Clergy sex abuse
Irish bishops admonished
to repair failure of leadership
 

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — At the end of a two-day Vatican summit on the sex abuse scandal in Ireland, the Vatican said in a statement Feb. 16 that “errors of judgment and omissions” were at the heart of the crisis. It said Church leaders recognized the sense of “pain and anger, betrayal, scandal and shame” that those errors have provoked among many Irish Catholics.

Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland, participates in a press conference at Vatican Radio Feb. 16, following the Irish bishops’ two-day meeting with Pope Benedict XVI.
CNS PHOTO/PAUL HARING
“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 image,” it said.

In a news conference following the meeting, Irish bishops said they had been able to engage in “frank and open” discussions with the pope and Vatican officials.

Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh, president of the Irish bishops’ conference, said that throughout the meeting “the victims were central to all of our discussions, and the victims remain our priority.” He said that there had been “a failure of leadership” on the part of the Irish hierarchy and they fully understand the “disillusionment, anger, shame and sense of betrayal” expressed by the victims.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the meeting produced no specific policy decisions, nor was it intended to do so. He said the encounter, which included 24 Irish bishops and 10 top Vatican officials, was aimed at dialogue and direction-setting, and in that sense was a success.

The recovery from the scandal will be “a very long process,” he added.

Father Lombardi said he thought one of the most significant outcomes was the public recognition that there had been a failure “in leadership, in the governance of the Church” in dealing with the sex abuse cases.

The spokesman said the meeting did not directly address some controversial aspects of the Irish situation, including the call for additional resignations of Irish bishops. Nor did the meeting discuss the idea, suggested by some in Ireland, that Pope Benedict add Ireland to his planned visit to England and Scotland in September and meet with some of the abuse victims.

The pope convened the bishops in response to the continuing fallout from the scandal, following an independent report that faulted the Church for its handling of 325 sex abuse claims in the Archdiocese of Dublin in the years 1975-2004. The report said bishops sometimes protected abusive priests, and were apparently more intent on protecting the Church’s reputation and assets than on helping the victims.

There has been widespread indignation among Irish Catholics following the revelations of the sex abuse cases and the way they were handled by the bishops, detailed in a report last November by an independent commission headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy. Pope Benedict held a preliminary meeting with two Irish bishops in December.

Four bishops criticized in the Irish report have offered their resignation, but so far the pope has officially accepted only one of them.

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