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Friday 17 January 2020

Clergy 'must admit blame for abominable acts of abuse'

John Cooney, David Sharrock and Richard Owen

CATHOLIC clergy who have sinned by abusing children or by turning a blind eye to paedophile priests must admit blame for their "abominable acts", Ireland's bishops were told yesterday.

"Yes, storms spark fear, even those that rock the boat of the church because of the sins of its members," said Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, in a sermon.

He was speaking inside St Peter's Basilica shortly before they began two days of crisis talks with the Pope.

Cardinal Bertone said that trials that came from within the church were "naturally harder and more humiliating", particularly when "men of the church were involved in such particularly abominable acts".

However, they formed a challenge that the church "must face". He made his comments during a Mass held for survivors of sexual abuse, attended by Ireland's 24 bishops.

Although Cardinal Bertone did not mention victims, prayers were offered for the survivors of abuse, the people, priests and religious of Ireland and for the intentions of Pope Benedict.

Prayers were also offered for the summit's success.

Irish victims of abuse by priests -- which was revealed in two government-ordered reports last year -- were unimpressed, calling on the Pope to visit Ireland to meet victims.

"We want the Pope to make a proper apology to Ireland, for what happened in Ireland," said abuse victim Michael O'Brien.

"We don't want a bland apology, we want an apology to those of us in Ireland who were abused and to the people of Ireland, who are 100pc behind us on this.

"This is not an Irish problem. This is a Catholic Church worldwide problem."


Cardinal Brady, the Primate of All Ireland, meanwhile encouraged the Irish people to continue to pray for healing, reconciliation and renewal. He also prayed for the guidance of the Holy Spirit for the church in Ireland at this time.

Vatican analysts said the 11 hours of meetings held by Pope Benedict XVI with Irish bishops on Sunday and a further five-hour behind-closed-doors session yesterday was unprecedented.

Pope Benedict will tell the Irish bishops the thrust of his action plan for resolving the child clerical abuse crisis when he closes a special two-day summit in the Vatican this afternoon, a confidential schedule of the proceedings seen by the Irish Independent reveals.

Talks resume at 9am today and will run until 1pm, when there will be a discussion of "the most important proposals to emerge". This, the document says, will be followed by preparation of "the Papal Reflection" which Pope Benedict promised to send the Catholics of Ireland in the wake of the public revulsion last November to the Murphy report's shocking findings of extensive cover-ups in the archdiocese of Dublin.

The document also reveals that before the final session ends, the agenda will focus on "conclusions by the Holy Father".

After the bishops have departed, Pope Benedict will consider reports from his heads of departments who engaged in the talks with the bishops before issuing his official letter, possibly in Holy Week ahead of Easter Sunday.

Meanwhile, after the refusal of the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, last night to accept an invitation to address an Oireachtas committee, fears were growing that the Pope's response may fall short of the demands from victims, including the removal of Bishop of Galway Martin Drennan.

Irish Independent

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