Cardinal says victims were central to Vatican talks
The Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady has said the central concern of the two-day meeting in the Vatican between Pope Benedict and the Irish bishops was how to help the victims heal completely.
Speaking in Rome yesterday afternoon after the meetings had concluded, Cardinal Brady told a press conference that “The meeting was held to help the Holy Father put the final touches to his letter which will address the victims . . . appropriately.”
Accompanied by four members of the Irish hierarchy, Bishop Joseph Duffy of Clogher, Bishop Michael Smith of Meath, Bishop Dennis Brennan of Ferns and Bishop Brendan Kelly of Achonry, Cardinal Brady described the talks with the Pontiff and senior Vatican officials as “exceptionally positive and helpful” and said it had given them “new courage”.
Speaking ahead of Ash Wednesday, Cardinal Brady said there was a need for the bishops to do a “real act of penance”.
“There have been failures in our leadership”, he acknowledged.
Referring to comments which were made to the bishops by some of the victims of abuse ahead of the Rome talks, the Cardinal said they had told the bishops that the only way the Church and the hierarchy could regain credibility would be through their humiliation.
“Tomorrow is the beginning of Lent, the time of penance, and we must begin with ourselves, do a real penance and have a change of heart”, Cardinal Brady said.
At the end of an unprecedented two-day Vatican summit with the Irish Bishops, the Pontiff branded the sexual abuse of children and young people a heinous crime and a grave sin.
The Vatican said the Pope also told Bishops the weakening of faith was a significant contributing factor in the phenomenon of the sexual abuse of minors.
However, Maeve Lewis, of Director of victims support group, One in Four, described Pope Benedict’s response as inadequate.
“It is deeply insulting to survivors to suggest that they were abused due to failures of faith, rather than because sex offending priests were moved from parish to parish, and those in authority looked away while further children were sexually abused,” she said.
Meanwhile, professor emeritus of moral theology at St Patrick’s College Maynooth, Fr Vincent Twomey, last night described such behaviour as “a sign of our cowardice and lack of moral courage”.
Speaking in Trinity College Dublin, Fr Twomey tackled the manner in which many in the Church had turned a blind eye to the things they knew were taking place in Church institutions.
“You can say it is in deference to the Church, but I think it is cowardice,” the former student of Pope Benedict said.