"It is a great problem, and at the center of it all must be the welfare of victims," the cardinal stated.
Speaking about the draft of the pastoral letter from Pope Benedict to the Irish Church, Cardinal Brady said that "generally, the pastoral letter was pleasing," although the Irish bishops did express some "reservations" to certain points which "were listened to very respectfully."
According to a statement released by the Press Office of the Holy See at the conclusion of the meetings the pastoral letter will be finished and presented during the Lenten season.
The Vatican statement also included the Pope's concern over a "more general crisis of faith" in the country, which he indicated as a contributing factor to the phenomenon of abuse, along with a lack of respect for the human person.
Cardinal Brady said that Pope Benedict had told them in the discussions that "at the heart of this is a renewal of faith because faith ultimately is the real and true protector of human dignity and that is the dignity of every human being, who is made in the image and likeness of God."
"That dignity," he continued, "has been wounded by sin and then there is the reality of Jesus who came into the world to heal the wound brought be sin and our job is to go back and continue to bring and preach and live the love of Jesus Christ in our own lives and to express that, especially to those who have suffered so previously as a result of these hideous crimes."
The Holy Father had emphasized the necessity of "a deeper theological reflection on the whole issue, and called for an improved human, spiritual, academic and pastoral preparation both of candidates for the priesthood and religious life and of those already ordained and professed," according to the Vatican statement.
Bishop Smith specified that Holy Father had told them that the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, "Gaudium et Spes," had been "totally misrepresented in some of the moral teaching and attitudes that came into theology."
He said the Pope called on them "to 'refind' the deep vision of humanity and the human person as contained in that particular document."
Bishop Smith also recalled that Pope Benedict has "spoken of it many times: that there is a poverty to the teaching of moral values and moral theology... in the Church.
Summing up the situation and the next step, Cardinal Brady affirmed, "Yes, there have been failures, of course, in our leadership," and "the only way that we will regain that credibility would be through our humiliation. Tomorrow is the beginning of Lent. It is a time of penance and we must begin with ourselves."
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"Real penance," he said. "A change of heart."