Pope Benedict XVI and high-ranking members or the Roman Curia met with two members of the Irish bishops’ conference in the papal library on Friday to listen to their concerns and discuss the issue of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin. The Pope was admittedly “deeply disturbed and distressed” by the contents of the Murphy Report released on Nov. 29 and expressed his commitment to investigating the matter further.
Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland, and Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin met for 90 minutes with Vatican representatives, including Secretaries of State Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, Archbishop Fernando Filoni, and Archbishop Dominique Mamberti. Also present were Cardinal Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Cardinal Re, Cardinal Ballestrero, Cardinals Wells and the Irish Nuncio.
In a press communiqué delivered to the press by Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Holy Father responded that he “wishes once more to express his profound regret at the actions of some members of the clergy who have betrayed their solemn promises to God, as well as the trust placed in them by the victims and their families, and by society at large.”
The meeting with the Pontiff comes two days after the Irish bishops’ conference issued a public apology for the abuse committed by some members of the Irish Catholic clergy over the last three decades. In part, their statement said, “This should never have happened and must never be allowed to happen again. We humbly ask for forgiveness.”
Benedict XVI also said that “he shares the outrage, betrayal and shame felt by so many of the faithful in Ireland, and he is united with them in prayer at this difficult time in the life of the Church.”
The Pontiff provided his assurance that the Church will continue in its efforts to discover “how these shameful events came to pass and how best to develop effective and secure strategies to prevent any recurrence.”
“The Holy See,” added the Pope, “takes very seriously the central issues raised by the Report including questions concerning the governance of local Church leaders with ultimate responsibility for the pastoral care of children.”
A pastoral letter to the Irish faithful will be forthcoming “in which he will clearly indicate the initiatives that are to be taken in response to the situation.”
In closing, Benedict XVI encouraged “all those who have dedicated their lives in generous service to children to persevere in their good works in imitation of Christ the Good Shepherd.”