Truly sorry from Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI issues a pastoral letter to Catholics in Ireland apologizing for sexual abuse of children by clergy.

Pope Benedict XVI

After the pressure gathered from the Ryan and Murphy Reports and the resignation of bishops, Pope Benedict XVI summoned all of the Irish Bishops to the Vatican in January 2010.

Following their meeting, it was announced that a pastoral letter would be written to address the issues involving the sexual abuse of children.

The letter was released by the Vatican on 20 March 2010. In the letter addressed to the Catholics of Ireland, he was “truly sorry” for the harm done to Catholics who suffered “sinful and criminal” abuse at the hands of priests, brothers and nuns. He acknowledged the “serious mistakes” made by the clergy.

The letter did not ask for the resignation of Seán Brady, did not address the Ryan and Murphy reports, and did not mention the cover-up of the abuse directions from the Vatican. The letter was to be read out at mass on 21 March 2010.

There was a mixed reaction to the contents of the letter. The letter was well received by the Primate of All Ireland Seán Cardinal Brady, the Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin and the Conference of Religious of Ireland (CORI).

Others did not think the letter went “far enough”. One victim of abuse, Andrew Madden, called upon the Pope to resign. One in Four, a group representing victims of sexual abuse, said that they were “deeply disappointed” with the letter.

The Catholic sexual abuse scandal in Ireland is a major chapter in the worldwide Catholic sexual abuse scandal. Unlike the Catholic sexual abuse scandal in the United States, the scandal in Ireland included cases of high-profile Catholic clerics involved in illicit heterosexual relations as well as widespread physical abuse of children in the Catholic-run childcare network.

Starting in the 1990s, a series of criminal cases and Irish government enquiries established that hundreds of priests had abused thousands of children in previous decades. In many cases, the abusing priests were moved to other parishes to avoid embarrassment or a scandal, assisted by senior clergy. By 2010 a number of in-depth judicial reports had been published, but with relatively few prosecutions.

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