Irish Catholics Furious at Pope’s Letter Blaming Clerical Abuse on ‘Secularization’

March 21, 2010

(ChattahBox)—-Against the backdrop of shocking revelations of decades of sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests in Ireland, and new reports of abuse in Germany, while Pope Benedict served as Archbishop of Munich, the Pope issued a lengthy public pastoral letter to the Catholics of Ireland, saying he was “deeply disturbed” of reports of “abuse of children” by “priests and religious.” Although the letter was a first by a pope dealing with the problems of sexual abuse in the Church, many victims and their families in Ireland have condemned Pope Benedict’s letter for not acknowledging the Vatican’s role in covering up the abuse and for not demanding the removal of bishops involved in keeping the abuse secret for decades, while innocent children continued to be molested. And many Irish Catholics are particularly rankled by Pope Benedict’s blaming the sexual abuse and its cover up on the secularization of modern society.

Irish Catholics have been dealing with feelings of disgust, shock and outrage over the never-ending revelations of sexual abuse of innocent children by parish priests that were covered up for years. With the conclusion of the Diocese of Ferns investigation and last year’s Murphy Commission Report, it was evident that the Irish Bishops and the Vatican knew of the horrendous sexual abuse by priests for decades and took actions to keep it secret to protect the reputation of the Catholic Church, seemingly not caring about the lives of innocent children and their families.

And of course, the clerical abuse scandal is not a problem isolated to Ireland; it’s a worldwide problem, with cases in the United States well documented and new revelations in Germany and Switzerland.

While Pope Benedict XVI served as archbishop of Munich, then-named Joseph Ratzinger, before he became pope, he reportedly knew of sexual abuse in his diocese. And as new shocking instances of the clerical abuse sandal in the German Catholic Church become public, Pope Benedict’s role in the scandal is being investigated.

Besides a plea from Pope Benedict urging priests and Bishops to repent and pray for their sins, as well as asking Catholic parishioners to pray, the passage in his letter blaming modern society for the clerical abuse scandal has Irish Catholics in an uproar:

“In recent decades, however, the Church in your country has had to confront new and serious challenges to the faith arising from the rapid transformation and secularization of Irish society. Fast-paced social change has occurred, often adversely affecting people‚Äôs traditional adherence to Catholic teaching and values,” wrote Pope Benedict.

A report in the Telegraph interviewed Irish abuse victims, whom are angry at Pope Benedict for not addressing the Vatican’s role in the cover ups and not realizing the scope of the problem that destroyed people’s lives and led to suicides:

Marie Collins was abused by a Catholic priest in 1960 when she was 13, but when she finally reported the abuse years later, she said she was bullied and threatened by church officials. “All I got was lies and deceit from the archdiocese (of Dublin). I was bullied and threatened,” she said.

She said she kept her expectations low, regarding Pope Benedict’s pastoral letter, but nevertheless, she was still disappointed:

“I had no great hope for this letter but there’s still a sense of let-down,” she said. “The Pope blames it all on the secularisation of Irish society and the misinterpretation of canon law. He takes no responsibility at all for the Vatican’s role in the cover up of abuse. There’s no acknowledgment that it’s a worldwide problem for the Church, or that victims weren’t just ignored, they were bullied into silence.”

Meanwhile, a piece on Sunday, in the German weekly magazine Focus, quoted Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg, head of the Bishops Conference, admitting that “sexual abuse was covered up for decades by society.”

Zollitsch, said “every single case darkens the face of the entire church.”


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