Pope Benedict: "outrage, betrayal and shame"
Pope Benedict has expressed outrage at the findings of the Dublin child abuse report, after a briefing today from the archbishops of Armagh and Dublin, and has pledged to write a pastoral letter to Catholics in Ireland setting out the church's strategy in response to the report.
The Vatican statement includes this telling sentence: "The Holy See takes very seriously the central issues raised by the Report, including questions concerning the governance of local Church leaders with ultimate responsibility for the pastoral care of children."
One might read this comment in a number of ways. Is this an indication that the Pope believes episcopal heads should roll? Or is this a careful effort to distance the Vatican from the decisions taken by Irish bishops? The phrase "ultimate responsibility" is striking because an outside observer might believe the Vatican bears ultimate responsibility for the pastoral care of children; but the statement places that responsibility, in this case, on the shoulders of Ireland's bishops.
Here is the full statement:
Today the Holy Father held a meeting with senior Irish Bishops and high-ranking members of the Roman Curia. He listened to their concerns and discussed with them the traumatic events that were presented in the Irish Commission of Investigation's Report into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin.
After careful study of the Report, the Holy Father was deeply disturbed and distressed by its contents. He wishes once more to express his profound regret at the actions of some members of the clergy who have betrayed their solemn promises to God, as well as the trust placed in them by the victims and their families, and by society at large.
The Holy Father shares the outrage, betrayal and shame felt by so many of the faithful in Ireland, and he is united with them in prayer at this difficult time in the life of the Church.
His Holiness asks Catholics in Ireland and throughout the world to join him in praying for the victims, their families and all those affected by these heinous crimes.
He assures all concerned that the Church will continue to follow this grave matter with the closest attention in order to understand better how these shameful events came to pass and how best to develop effective and secure strategies to prevent any recurrence.
The Holy See takes very seriously the central issues raised by the Report, including questions concerning the governance of local Church leaders with ultimate responsibility for the pastoral care of children.
The Holy Father intends to address a Pastoral Letter to the faithful of Ireland in which he will clearly indicate the initiatives that are to be taken in response to the situation.
Finally, His Holiness encourages all those who have dedicated their lives in generous service to children to persevere in their good works in imitation of Christ the Good Shepherd.