Pope strongly condemns abuse of children
Pope Benedict has strongly condemned the sexual abuse of children and young people as “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”.
The Pope made his comments in a statement issued following his two days’ of meetings with serving members of the Irish hierarchy.
The Pontiff also called for better preparation of candidates for the priesthood and religious life.
The statement issued by the Vatican after noon today stated that the Pontiff “stressed the need for a deeper theological reflection on the whole issue, and called for an improved human, spiritual, academic and pastoral preparation both of candidates for the priesthood and religious life and of those already ordained and professed”.
Acknowledging the crisis caused by the revelations of the abuse of children by priests and religious, which he termed as “the current painful situation”, he underlined that the hurt caused and anger would not be resolved quickly.
Pope Benedict challenged Ireland’s bishops “to address the problems of the past with determination and resolve, and to face the present crisis with honesty and courage”, the papal statement said.
The Pope also expressed the hope that the meeting with the Irish bishops would help to unify them and enable them to “speak with one voice in identifying concrete steps aimed at bringing healing to those who had been abused, encouraging a renewal of faith in Christ and restoring the Church’s spiritual and moral credibility”.
The Pope’s statement follows the crisis meetings in Rome to discuss the fall-out from the Ryan and Murphy reports.
The Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Seán Brady, will give a press conference later this afternoon.
During the course of the two days, the twenty-four serving bishops gave advice to up to seven top Vatican officials on the drafting of the Pope’s special pastoral letter to the Irish Church which will be devoted exclusively to child abuse by priests and religious.
Pope Benedict said he would take into account the comments of the Irish Bishops, and complete his pastoral letter, which will be issued during the season of Lent.
Yesterday, the Pontiff told the Irish bishops, “Trials for the Church can come from within and from without. Both are painful but the ones that come from within are obviously harder to take and more humiliating.”
He added, “Such is the huge trial that your communities are currently undergoing, trials which see some men of the Church involved in particularly execrable acts.”
Pope Benedict also called for “humility of heart” amongst the bishops.
“Only if we arrive at an authentic and sincere humility can the grace of God truly work deeply for us and thus realise a true renewal,” he said.
Speaking ahead of the two-day closed door meeting, Bishop Joseph Duffy of Clogher said, “I would admit quite frankly what everyone else knows, and shout it from the housetops: that the Church has been seriously wounded, and we’re in a very serious situation, that this has done immense damage to the authority of the Church.”
He added, “And our business is to try to repair that damage and to restore confidence, because confidence has been lost not only in the bishops, but by the bishops themselves.”