Papal letter is just a start
CRITICS of the Pope's pastoral letter to Irish Catholics have made many valid points about what they see as its inadequacies. But there are at least two positive sides to the event: its unique nature, and the graciousness and humility of Benedict XVI's apology to victims of clerical sex abuse.
These are matched by the strong terms in which he denounces the failings of the Irish bishops. After all those decades of cover-up and equivocation, they fully deserve his harsh words. And there are, at least potentially, practical implications of an encouraging kind.
The recent Rome meeting between Pope Benedict and the bishops disappointed most Irish Catholics. It appeared Archbishop Diarmuid Martin had been sidelined and the Pope had failed to endorse the firm actions he had taken against those involved in the "culture of concealment". Presumably the archbishop can take it that he now enjoys the support of the Vatican.