Friday, June 11, 2010

Pope begs forgiveness, promises action on abuse

Last updated June 11, 2010 2:20 a.m. PT

Pope begs forgiveness, promises action on abuse
By NICOLE WINFIELD
ASSOCIATED PRESS WRITER


Pope Benedict XVI greets faithful at the end of a meeting in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican to celebrate the end of the Church's year of the priest, Thursday, June 10, 2010. Thousands of priest from around the world gathered in St. Peter's square in a major show of support for Pope Benedict XVI amid the clerical abuse scandal. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI begged forgiveness Friday from clerical abuse victims for the sins of priests and promised to "do everything possible" to ensure prelates don't rape or molest children ever again.

Benedict's pledge was similar to what he said in the past, but was made in the highly symbolic setting of a Mass in St. Peter's Square marking the end of the Vatican's Year of the Priest. The yearlong celebration of the priesthood has been marred by revelations of hundreds of new cases of clerical abuse, cover-up and Vatican inaction to root out pedophiles.

In his homily, Benedict lamented that during what should have been a year of joy for the priesthood the "sins of priests came to light - particularly the abuse of the little ones."

"We too insistently beg forgiveness from God and from the persons involved, while promising to do everything possible to ensure that such abuse will never occur again," he said.

He said that in admitting men into the priesthood and in forming them as clergymen "we will do everything we can to weigh the authenticity of their vocation and make every effort to accompany priests along their journey."

His comments were similar to those reported by the Vatican during his private meeting with abuse victims in Malta in April, during which the pontiff had tears in his eyes as he heard the stories of men who had been molested by priests as children.

But Friday's comments were a public admission of the sins of priests, a request for forgiveness from their victims and God, and pledge to take action. It was uttered in a highly symbolic gathering of an estimated 15,000 priests from around the world who came to Rome for a show of support of the pontiff and the priesthood itself amid the scandal.

It is unclear if his comments, though, would satisfy demands from victims groups for a personal mea culpa followed up by a clear-cut plan of action to protect children.

Benedict's own legacy has been tarnished by the scandal, since he was archbishop of Munich in the 1980s when he approved therapy for a suspected pedophile who was allowed to resume pastoral duties while being treated. The priest, the Rev. Peter Hullermann, later was handed a suspended sentence for molesting a boy. In addition, Benedict's legacy at the Vatican office that dealt with sex abuse has come under scrutiny.

No comments: