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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 10:02 pm 
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To those unaware of this, the Pope has issued a Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, apologising for the abuses carried out by members of the Catholic church and the cover-ups and non-cooperation of officials and priests in hiding the abuse and protecting abusers, often moving them to other parishes where they abused again. Now, some here are welcoming the apology as a step in the right direction, while others feel it doesn't go far enough.

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Pastoral Letter of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, to the Catholics of Ireland

Pope Benedict XVI has written a Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland in which he:
• says to the victims of abuse and their families: ‘You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry’
• expresses deep dismay at ‘sinful and criminal acts and the way the Church authorities in Ireland dealt with them’
• calls on Church leaders in Ireland to continue to cooperate fully with the civil authorities
• says that only decisive action carried out with complete honesty and transparency will restore the respect and good will of the Irish people towards the Church
• concludes his Letter with a special Prayer for the Church in Ireland, which he composed himself.

Background to the Letter

Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, has summarised the letter as follows:
The Pope’s Pastoral Letter is a letter addressed to the Catholic faith community in Ireland. He has asked believers to read it prayerfully and reflect on it and indicates some spiritual measures which the entire Church community can undertake.

• The Pope recognizes the grievous suffering of victims and says the he is truly sorry: “your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated”.
• The Letter is not a general commentary on the phenomenon of child sexual abuse within the Church.
• The Pastoral Letter is part of a broader and on-going programme and strategy for renewal of the Catholic Church in Ireland following the scandals of the sexual abuse of children by priests and in Catholic institutions.
• The Pope recognizes that the crisis of healing and renewal cannot be resolved swiftly. The Pastoral Letter is not the final word.
• The Letter is not a new strategy for dealing with child sexual abuse. The Pope reaffirms and commends the measures that are currently in place within the Catholic Church in Ireland to deal with the problem.
• The Pope announces two further steps in his strategy for renewal of the Catholic Church in Ireland:
• An Apostolic Visitation of certain dioceses, of religious life and of seminary formation.
• A Mission of spiritual renewal for all Bishops, religious and priests.

Some Key Messages from Pope’s Letter

(The numbers refer to paragraphs in the original letter)

1. “I can only share in the dismay and the sense of betrayal that so many of you have experienced on learning of these sinful and criminal acts and the way Church authorities in Ireland dealt with them.”
6. “To the victims of abuse and their families — you have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured”
6 “Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated”
6 “Many of you found that when you were courageous enough to speak of what happened to you no one would listen”
6 “I know some of you find it difficult even to enter the doors of a Church after all that has occurred”.
6. “Those of you who were abused in residential institutions must have felt that there was no escape from your sufferings. It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the Church”.
5. “On several occasions since my election to the See of Peter, I have met with victims of abuse, as indeed I am ready to do in the future.”
2. “The Church in Ireland must first acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenceless children. Such an acknowledgement, accompanied by sincere sorrow for the damage caused to these victims and their families must lead to a concerted effort to ensure the protection of children from similar crimes in the future”.
2. “No one imagines that this painful situation will be resolved swiftly.”
7. “God’s justice summons us to give an account of our actions and to conceal nothing”
11. “To my brother bishops: It cannot be denied that some of you and your predecessors failed, at times grievously, to apply the long-established norms of canon law to the crime of child abuse… It must be admitted that grave errors of judgment were made and failures of leadership occurred.
2. “The task you now face is to address the problem of abuse that has occurred within the Irish Catholic community, and to do so with courage and determination. No one imagines that this painful situation will be resolved swiftly.”
11. “Only decisive action carried out with complete honestly and transparency will restore the respect and good will of the Irish people towards the church to which we have consecrated our lives”
11. “Besides fully implementing the norms of canon law in addressing cases of child abuse, continue to cooperate with the civil authorities in their areas of competence”.
4. “Certainly, among the contributing factors we can include: inadequate procedures for determining the suitability of candidates for the priesthood and the religious life; insufficient human, moral, intellectual and spiritual formation in seminaries and novitiates; a tendency in society to favour the clergy and other authority figures; and a misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal, resulting in failure to apply existing canonical penalties and to safeguard the dignity of every person.”
10. “I am also aware that in some people’s eyes [priests] are tainted by association, and viewed as if you were somehow responsible for the misdeeds of others. At this painful time I wish to acknowledge the dedication of your priestly and religious lives and apostolates.
14. “While no effort should be spared in improving and updating existing procedures, I am encouraged by the fact that the current safeguarding procedures adopted by local Churches are being seen in some parts of the world as a model for other institutions to follow”.
14. “I take this opportunity to thank… the many men and women throughout Ireland already working for the safety of children in church environments”.

Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh, welcomed the Pope’s Pastoral Letter in an address given by him to the Congregation at 11am Morning Mass in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Armagh on Saturday 20th March 2010.


Full Text of Pastoral Letter of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, to the Catholics of Ireland

Full Text of the address given by Cardinal Brady in Armagh Cathedral on Saturday 20th March

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 10:05 pm 
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No, it didn't go far enough.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 10:11 pm 
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I agree, it didn't.

For multiple reasons. First, he is laying the blame on the Irish bishops... ignoring how the same problem is cropping up all over Europe, now. Including, it seems like, under the Pope's watch in Germany. Second, what about punishment, retribution, justice for the people who did these acts? Why the silence on that front?

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 21, 2010 10:24 pm 
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All over Europe? How about all over the world?

I had a long post written here, but I guess I had better leave it deleted. :(

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:53 am 
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I don't think an apology, no matter how heartfelt and sincere, is ever going to be enough. The Pope needs to address the question of how this could have happened, and gone on for so long - and then take steps to change things to ensure something like this could never happen again.

In my opinion, he is still busily protecting the hierarchy of the church without really doing anything to protect children.

And he seems to be taking NO responsibility himself, even though he was involved at some level.

The church should not be above the law, and it seems that the Pope still assumes that it is.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:13 pm 
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The Germans feel ignored because the Pope didn't mention them in his letter. His spokesman said that the apology to the Irish can be seen as an apology to all people concerned, no matter the country.

For the time being there's not one day on which no new cases of child abuse are reported in the German media, committed not only by clerical perpetrators, but also teachers etc.

My daughter was an altar girl and later a prayer leader for several years and I'm sure that she would have spoken to me, if anything had happened. The priest had a very good reputation, especially for hisexcellent relationship with the children and adolescents. He was the only one far and wide who attracted young people to the church and motivated them to take actively part in the services. The church was always jam packed when the special mass for the youth was celebrated. Does that make him suspicious now?

The problem seems to lie deeper than in the criminal attitude of some priests and bishops, no matter, if they did "it" themselves or turned a blind eye. Celibacy on the one hand - and child abuse on the other?

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 10:02 pm 
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Celibacy for priests is not the problem. Boy Scout leaders and hockey coaches, etc., are not celibate and yet there is a constant stream of revelations of abuse by youth leaders in every field.

Pedophiles are naturally attracted to work with children.

I think some men enter the priesthood praying that it will keep them from acting out their sexuality. It might help some, but it evidently does not help all.

There is a scandal brewing in the Boy Scout movement that's going to blow the roof off.

Every large organization has a First Rule: Cover Your Ass. Rule Two: Cover Up.

As long as those rules are in operation, these scandals will continue.

And as long as parents blindly trust their children to strangers, these abuses will happen. Of course a parent SHOULD be able to trust a priest, or a Scout master - but we can see that trust is often misplaced. Parents must do 2 things: take more part in their children's lives, and insist on procedures that mean these men will not be alone with children.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 8:34 pm 
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I don't see the celibacy in itself as a problem, but the Catholic church has been insisting on it despite all debates. Some years ago there was a movement at the basis of the Catholic church in Germany "We are the church", if I remember it correctly, and one of the demands was to revise celibacy - and this demand was strictly declined.

Now people call for the same strict attitude towards the child abuse, but they only get some lame apology - and they do see some irony in celibacy on the one hand and child abuse on the other.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 9:17 pm 
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Speaking spiritually here, this is also a spiritual problem. An apology is all well and good; real action is even better. But, ultimately, if the Church (any church) doesn't allow the light of Christ to shine into even the darkest reaches it will be a sick church. He has to be allowed to cleanse and heal and expose the rottenness we all build up over time.

I love the RCC, but like any church, we have to be more concerned with pleasing God than pleasing ourselves or covering our butts if people around us are doing unrighteous things. I wish there had been more clergy of integrity who would've been more afraid of God than the church. (And I'm sure there were clergy who acted with integrity in trying to stop the abuses.) After all, Jesus promised that his Church would prevail, so we shouldn't be afraid to speak out against things going on in the church that are sinful or evil. It may be painful in the short term, but it will be fruitful and life-producing in the long term.

(I know I'm using a lot of Christian-ese here, and I do apologize. But I'm really trying to look at this with spiritual eyes.)

I guess I wonder if there's true repentance here. And I wonder how that will be demonstrated not just to the people but to God. There should be weeping and mourning and fasting and all of that jazz. I know that sounds weird, probably, but God can't work till his people ask forgiveness. (In this case, the hierarchy of the RCC has a lot to repent for.) So I think this written apology is good as a first step toward that repentance, but there's a lot more room for action. And it should be directed by God.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 9:35 pm 
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Alatar, were you asking if the apology goes far enough as an apology, unrelated to whatever other action might be taken, or were you asking if the apology goes far enough as the totality of what is to be done?

The apology seems to take the approach of, 'I'm sorry your were hurt' as opposed to 'I'm sorry we hurt you.' It would be nice to see someone take personal responsibility.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 23, 2010 11:55 pm 
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Pretty much what you said Cerin. There seems to be a "Sorry bad stuff happened on our watch" rather than "Sorry we screwed up almightily and attempted to cover our asses rather than fix the problem".

Personally I find it all extremely distasteful. So much so that I'm seriously wondering if I should be teaching my children to believe in this Church. I have no problem teaching them to believe in Christ and his teachings, but unfortunately the Church seems to be denying those very teachings at every turn. I feel like a Hypocrite.

(P.S. On Facebook I've had people tell me that "We are the Church, not some bad priests", so I'll clarify. When I say "the Church" I refer to the Roman Catholic heirarchy.)

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 5:42 am 
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Alatar, you echo the sentiments of MANY American Catholics after the child abuse scandal broke in the states. Cardinal Law, from my home state, Massachusetts, was at the forefront of the cover-up - at one point asking that the "wrath of God" be brought down upon the Boston Globe newspaper for reporting the story. He did his level best to protect the priests and nothing to help the victims.

Many Catholics became so disillusioned that they ultimately left the RCC - after trying and failing to get their concerns and issues listened to. Many became Episcopalians (sort of an American version of the Anglican church) or joined other churches. Some simply stopped going to any church at all. Some became non-believers. Some continued as Catholic, but in great distress. At one point, I thought we might see a split from Rome and the formation of an American Catholic church.

Oh, and Cardinal Law? He was removed from his post, finally. (Well, he resigned.) But he was not punished. John Paul appointed him to a post in Rome, with the title of Archpriest.

I agree with Cerin about the tone of the apology. Saying "sorry this happened" is very different than saying "sorry we did this." And totally inadequate...it doesn't really address the problem at all.

ETA: Op/Ed piece in today's Times about this topic:
Call the police: that is what the Pope should have said
It is typical of Benedict XVI that he should blame child abuse on ‘social change’, not the Church itself

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:51 pm 
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That is so sad and disheartening.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 25, 2010 5:17 pm 
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The scandal moves ever closer to the Pope...

Pope 'failed to act' on US sex abuse claims

This was a case of a priest molesting over 200 handicapped boys, and letters written to then Cardinal Ratzinger pleading with him to act. He didn't.

Disgusting.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 6:45 pm 
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I heard a squib on the radio yesterday. Apparently the response to the new claims against the Pope is to call them smears. I think the church hierarchy is just so used to circling the wagons, they don't know any other way.

Has there ever been a Pope to resign because of a scandal?

Alatar, I just wanted to acknowledge the difficulty of what you and other Catholics are going through. I hope you find a way of comfort and peace through this.

edit

I suppose the infallibility (of the Pope) doctrine plays into the problem by making it even more difficult to admit error. Perhaps they are afraid of the theological implications of doing so?

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 7:26 pm 
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from Cerin

Quote:
I think the church hierarchy is just so used to circling the wagons, they don't know any other way.


Habits that go back over a thousand years do not die easily. As a person born and raised Catholic and who attended Catholic school for 12 years, I see no real end to such practices.

The officials within the Catholic Church made a decision many years ago about this and now the chickens are coming home to roost. There are two undeniable facts at work here which are not totally independent of each other.
1) In order to qualify to be a priest, a man has to be totally indifferent to the charms of women and be able to deny or suppress his own sexuality - part of his own humanity.
2) Over the past 35 years, the number of men becoming priests has been historically low compared to the previous years and has caused a staffing crisis in the Church.

As a result, we get some priests molesting boys when they have no acceptable sexual outlet and we have the church hierarchy looking the other way because they have a far more important problem (to their view) of not being able to properly staff churches.

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Last edited by sauronsfinger on Fri Mar 26, 2010 7:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 7:27 pm 
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But he wasn't the Pope yet when these errors were made, and anyway as I understand it the Pope's statements are viewed as infallible only under certain formal circumstances (when he's speaking ex cathedra, I think is the phrase).

I'm not defending his (imputed) behavior, just suggesting that admitting to it shouldn't be influenced by fears of diluting infallibility.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 7:34 pm 
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Thanks for those insights, Prim.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 7:46 pm 
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Given the history of the Church, I wonder what percentage of Catholics truly accept the docrtine of Papal Infallibility these days?

The doctrine itself only goes back to 1870 although it is based on earlier traditions within the Church.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 26, 2010 9:47 pm 
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While I think priestly celibacy is idiotic, I don't believe it can be blamed for the apparently endemic problem of child abuse: not merely sexual abuse, but physical and emotional/spiritual as well.

As I said above, Scout masters, schoolteachers, 4-H leaders, etc., are not required to be celibate and yet their ranks are riddled with pedophiles just the same.

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