Pope apologizes to victims of child abuse
Vatican City, Mar 21: In line with the attempts to repair the damages caused by the string of scandals over sexual abuse of children by priests, Pope Benedict on Saturday, Mar 20 apologised to the victims and ordered a formal formal Vatican probe of Irish Roman Catholic dioceses and seminaries involved in the abuse scandal.
"You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry ... I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel," he said in an unprecedented letter covering sexual abuse of minors by clergy in Ireland.
The letter addressing the people, bishops, priests and victims of abuse in the overwhelmingly Catholic country, the name of other scandal-hit nations, particulary that of Germany, the pope's native, failed to find mention.
"I can only share in the dismay and sense of betrayal that so many of you have experienced on learning of these sinful and criminal acts and the way the Church authorities in Ireland dealt with them," he said.
However, the Pope failed to address the demands for a radical restructuring of the church in Ireland including the widespread demand for the resignation of the bishops involved in the scandal.
Announcing "apostolic visitation" of "certain" dioceses, seminaries and religious orders in Ireland, the Pope said that the development in the matter will be announced soon.
An apostolic visitation is a form of an inquiry in which the investigators review the handling of the abuse cases in the past, along with suggesting changes in the approaches and decide upon the disciplinary action after meeting the bishops, seminary or convent directors and local church officials.
Pope lashedout at the Irish Bishop for the unfair handling of abuse cases in the past.
"It must be admitted that grave errors of judgment were made and failures of leadership occurred. All this has seriously undermined your credibility and effectiveness," he said.
"Only decisive action carried out with complete honesty and transparency will restore the respect and goodwill of the Irish people towards the Church to which we have consecrated our lives," he said.