Pope Benedict XVI emphasized that the Irish Catholic community must now face the task of addressing the abuse crisis with "courage and determination," though its resolution will not be swift.
"Perseverance and prayer are needed, with great trust in the healing power of God’s grace," he indicated.
The Church in Ireland must "acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenseless children."
"Such an acknowledgement, accompanied by sincere sorrow for the damage caused to these victims and their families, must lead to a concerted effort to ensure the protection of children from similar crimes in the future."
Addressing abusive priests and religious in Ireland he wrote: "you betrayed the trust that was placed in you by innocent young people and their parents and you must answer for it before Almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals."
Calling for accountability, repentance and atonement, he told them "God's justice summons us to give an account of our actions and to conceal nothing."
"Openly acknowledge your guilt, submit yourselves to the demands of justice, but do not despair of God's mercy," he exhorted.
Addressing the bishops of Ireland, he condemned "grave errors of judgment” and “failures of leadership.”
Along with making a full implementation of canon law in cases of child abuse, he ordered the episcopacy to “continue to cooperate with the civil authorities in their area of competence."
It is "imperative" that child safety norms be revised and updated to ensure their application "fully and impartially in conformity with canon law."
"Only decisive action carried out with complete honesty and transparency will restore the respect and good will of the Irish people towards the Church to which we have concentrated our lives."
He asked the bishops to deepen their pastoral concern for their flock and to offer encouragement to priests to "stir up the flame of their love for Christ and their commitment to the service of their brothers and sisters."
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Pope Benedict invited current priests and religious to "cooperate closely with those in authority" and "reaffirm your faith in Christ, your love of his Church and your confidence in the Gospel's promise of redemption, forgiveness and interior renewal."
"In this way," he added, "you will demonstrate for all to see that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more."
The Holy Father called upon all the faithful to persevere along the path “marked out by the Gospel."
Providing some proposals for healing, reconciliation and renewal, the Holy Father invited all the faithful to offer their Friday penances until Easter of 2011 for the "outpouring of God's mercy and the Holy Spirit's gifts of holiness and strength upon the Church in your country."
He asked the Irish faithful to offer up their fasting, prayer, Scripture reading and works of mercy for "the grace of healing and renewal” for the Church in Ireland, with particular attention to Eucharistic Adoration.
"Through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord, you can make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm, at the same time imploring the grace of renewed strength and a deeper sense of mission on the part of all bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful."