Pope Benedict says Irish child sex abuse is a 'heinous crime'
Pontiff calls for improved preparation for Irish priesthood
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Pope Benedict XVI has issued a strong statement of condemnation of pedophilia following his two-day meeting with 24 Irish bishops in Rome. He has also called for better preparation for the priesthood. The following is his statement:
“On 15 and 16 February 2010, the Holy Father met the Irish Bishops and senior members of the Roman Curia to discuss the serious situation which has emerged in the Church in Ireland.
“Together they examined the failure of Irish Church authorities for many years to act effectively in dealing with cases involving the sexual abuse of young people by some Irish clergy and religious.
“All those present recognized that this grave crisis has led to a breakdown in trust in the Church's leadership and has damaged her witness to the Gospel and its moral teaching.
“The meeting took place in a spirit of prayer and collegial fraternity, and its frank and open atmosphere provided guidance and support to the Bishops in their efforts to address the situation in their respective Dioceses.
“On the morning of 15 February, following a brief introduction by the Holy Father, each of the Irish Bishops offered his own observations and suggestions.
“The Bishops spoke frankly of the sense of pain and anger, betrayal, scandal and shame expressed to them on numerous occasions by those who had been abused.
“There was a similar sense of outrage reflected by laity, priests and religious in this regard.
“The Bishops likewise described the support at present being provided by thousands of trained and dedicated lay volunteers at parish level to ensure the safety of children in all Church activities, and stressed that, while there is no doubt that errors of judgment and omissions stand at the heart of the crisis, significant measures have now been taken to ensure the safety of children and young people.
“They also emphasized their commitment to cooperation with the statutory authorities in Ireland - North and South - and with the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland to guarantee that the Church's standards, policies and procedures represent best practice in this area.
“For his part, the Holy Father observed that the sexual abuse of children and young people is not only a heinous crime, but also a grave sin which offends God and wounds the dignity of the human person created in his image.
“While realizing that the current painful situation will not be resolved quickly, he challenged the Bishops to address the problems of the past with determination and resolve, and to face the present crisis with honesty and courage.
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