.- Irish Bishop Denis Brennan released a statement yesterday, relaying the message of Pope Benedict XVI to the people of his diocese. In their meeting the Holy Father expressed his spiritual closeness to those who have been affected by the scandalous acts of sexual abuse committed by some clergy members and spoke of the personal anguish and horror which the accounts of abuse by priests as well as the pain experienced by their victims have caused him.
Bishop Brennan was appointed to serve as bishop of the Diocese of Ferns in March of this year and has been working to bring about healing and confronting the issue of scandalous clerical sexual abuse since he began. A recent report presented to the Irish Minister for Health and Children recorded over 100 abuse accusations against 21 priests in the Diocese of Ferns between 1966 and 2005. The bishop’s meeting with the Holy Father came as part of the Ad limina visit of Irish bishops.
The diocesan office of communications said the Holy Father asked Bishop Brennan to “assure those, who have been sexually abused by priests, of his concern for them and his deep regret at the harm and suffering they have experienced. His prayer at this time is for healing and peace of all those who have suffered.”
Pope Benedict also asked the bishop, “to convey to all the faithful of the Diocese of Ferns, his care and solicitude for them, as supreme Pastor of the Universal Church.”
“The Holy Father expressed prayerful solidarity with the lay-faithful, religious, and priests of Ferns in the sufferings they have endured and in the deep pain caused by the scandal of sexual abuse of the young, by some of those entrusted with the sacred ministry,” the press release said.
“Pope Benedict expressed his own personal anguish and horror at the incomprehensible behaviour of those clergy, whose actions have devastated human lives and profoundly betrayed the trust of children, young people, their families, parish communities and the entire diocesan family,” the statement concluded.