Monday, February 15, 2010

Vatican: Irish sex abuse scandal 'humiliating' for Catholic Church

Vatican: Irish sex abuse scandal 'humiliating' for Catholic Church
The Vatican has described Ireland's child sex abuse scandal as "humiliating" for the Catholic Church as bishops from the country meet Pope Benedict XVI.

By Nick Squires in Rome
Published: 11:41AM GMT 15 Feb 2010

Vatican Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone Photo: REUTERS Priests involved in the abuses had committed "particularly execrable acts", the Vatican said on Monday, as Irish bishops began an unprecedented summit with the Pope.

The Vatican's Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone, told the bishops that revelations of systemic and long-standing paedophilia presented a "hard and humiliating challenge" for the Irish Catholic Church.

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"Such is the serious challenge facing your communities, which see men of the Church involved in particularly execrable acts," he said.

More than 20 bishops are due to hold talks with the Pope at the Vatican over two days over the revelations of child abuse, along with evidence that Church authorities covered up for paedophile priests for three decades.

The crisis erupted in November with the publication of an explosive Irish government investigation detailing the crimes and revealing that church leaders in Dublin had spent decades protecting child-abusing priests from the law. The Murphy Report found the Church had "obsessively" hidden child abuse from 1975 to 2004.

Armagh Archbishop Sean Brady, the primate of all Ireland, told Vatican Radio the meetings were part of a "journey of repentance, reconciliation and renewal" for the Irish Church.

The 24 bishops will each speak to the pontiff about their knowledge of decades-long sexual, psychological and physical abuse of minors by parish priests and other clergy in Catholic orphanages, workhouses, and other institutions. One bishop said the talks would be "frank".

The revelations shocked Ireland, and four of the five bishops who were criticised for failing to act on reports of paedophilia resigned.

But the fifth, Martin Drennan of Galway, has insisted he did nothing to endanger children and has rejected calls that he step down.

In recent weeks, a new sexual abuse scandal involving clergy has erupted in the Catholic church in Benedict's homeland, Germany.

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