Vat­i­can to Ir­ish bish­ops: ad­mit blame in sex abuse coverups, but vic­tims skep­ti­cal of sum­mit

Cape Breton Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

ROME (AP) — A top Vat­i­can prelate told Ir­ish bish­ops at an ex­traor­di­nary Vat­i­can sum­mit with Pope Bene­dict XVI Mon­day they must ad­mit their own blame in coverups of gen­er­a­tions of sex abuse of mi­nors, or risk los­ing the faith of Ire­land’s Catholics.

But the for­mer Dublin al­tar boy who helped ex­pose the scan­dal doubted that any real hi­er­ar­chy house­keep­ing would re­sult from the two days of talks be­hind closed doors in the Apos­tolic Palace.

Bene­dict’s top aide, Car­di­nal Tar­ci­sio Ber­tone, de­liv­ered a sting­ing homily at a mass be­fore the talks de­cry­ing the “par­tic­u­larly ab­hor­rent deeds” of some in the Ir­ish church hi­er­ar­chy, al­though he didn’t name any names.

Ber­tone, the Vat­i­can’s No. 2 who par­tic­i­pated in the sum­mit with 24 bish­ops from Ir­ish dio­ce­ses, likened the cri­sis to a “most danger­ous storm, that which touches the heart of be­liev­ers, shak­ing their faith and threat­en­ing their abil­ity to trust in God.”

To re­store faith, “sin­ners must ac­knowl­edge their own blame in the full­ness of truth,” urged Ber­tone, the Holy See’s sec­re­tary of state. He wor­ried that the evil could push faith­ful to­ward “dis­cour­age­ment and des­per­a­tion.”

A state re­port last year found that church leaders in Dublin had spent decades pro­tect­ing child­abus­ing priests from the law while many fel­low cler­ics pre­tended not to see. A sep­a­rate in­quiry doc­u­mented decades of sex­ual, phys­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal abuse or chil­dren and teens in Catholi­crun schools, work­houses and or­phan­ages.

Bish­ops kissed the pope in a fra­ter­nal ges­ture of re­spect be­fore cam­eras were ush­ered out. The Vat­i­can won’t com­ment be­fore the sum­mit ends to­day nor has it re­leased Bene­dict’s re­marks at the ses­sions, which be­gan in the morn­ing and ran into the evening.

The bish­ops made them­selves un­avail­able for com­ment. Ir­ish bish­ops con­fer­ence spokesman Martin Long said the bish­ops had cho­sen to stay at a guest house within Vat­i­can City’s walls so they could bet­ter “ fo­cus” on the cri­sis talks.

The del­e­ga­tion’s top mem­ber, Car­di­nal Sean Brady, arch­bishop of Ar­magh and pri­mate of all Ire­land, de­scribed the talks as a first step on a jour­ney to­ward “pen­i­tence, re­newal and rec­on­cil­i­a­tion.”

Ber­tone called for “ hu­mil­ity” from the bish­ops. But Clogher Bishop Joseph Duffy had al­ready said res­ig­na­tions were not on sum­mit agenda, de­fy­ing vic­tims’ de­mands that cler­ics who in­volved in pro­tect­ing pe­dophile priests step down.

That made An­drew Madden, who in 1995 be­came the first in Ire­land to go pub­lic with an abuse law­suit against the church, pes­simistic.

“It’s clear that most of Ire­land’s bish­ops should go, be­cause they con­spired in cov­er­ing up heinous crimes,” Madden told The As­so­ci­ated Press in Ire­land. “Most of them will cling to their po­si­tions re­gard­less of the an­guish this causes the vic­tims.”

A U.S. lobby of clergy sex abuse vic­tims echoed Madden’s lack of ex­pec­ta­tions.

“Does any­one hon­estly think that the very same men who ig­nored and con­cealed child sex crimes for decades can or will do a sud­den and com­plete 180de­gree turn­around and sud­denly be part of the so­lu­tion?” said Bar­bara Dor­ris, of the Sur­vivors Net­work of those Abused by Priests.

The As­so­ci­ated Press

In this pic­ture made avail­able by the Vat­i­can news­pa­per Osser­va­tore Ro­mano, Pope Bene­dict XVI, sec­ond from right, meets with Ir­ish bish­ops at the Vat­i­can, Mon­day. An ex­traor­di­nary sum­mit be­tween Ir­ish bish­ops and Pope Bene­dict XVI opened with a prayer and fra­ter­nal kisses in what Ire­land’s top bishop called a first step to­ward re­pen­tance for the coun­try’s clergy sex abuse scan­dal.

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