Pope letter on Catholic sex abuse scandal meets Irish skepticism
In Ireland, news that Pope Benedict is sending a letter on the Catholic sex abuse scandal was met by disagreement over whether the church can regain its moral authority. The letter will be made public Saturday.
Pope Benedict XVI has written a pastoral letter to Irish Roman Catholics on the issue of preventing and punishing sexual abuse of children by priests – but opinion here is divided on whether the church can ever regain its moral authority.Skip to next paragraph
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The papal letter, expected later today, follows a series of accusatory Irish government reports last year into pedophilia within the Irish Roman Catholic Church.
Pope Benedict says he hopes the communication, to be made public Saturday, "will help in the process of repentance, healing, and renewal."
"The hope is it will have a fulsome apology. The victims want the pope to make a proper admission of a systemic cover-up, not just minimize it as a few problems," he says.
Cardinal embroiled in scandal over priest
The letter comes as Cardinal Sean Brady, head of the Irish Church, finds himself embroiled in a scandal surrounding the late Rev. Brendan Smyth. Father Smyth abused children from the 1940s onward, and was moved from parish to parish, including a stint in the United States, which was when the church became aware of it.
In 1975, Cardinal Brady, then a priest, was present when two of Smyth's victims were asked to sign an oath of secrecy. Brady did not inform the statutory authorities.
Calls for his resignation, including from Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness, deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, were met with refusal – Brady told BBC Radio he will only go if asked to do so by the pope. He says he was working in a clerical position at the time and that he appropriately discharged responsibilities by providing senior clerics with the information on Father Smyth.