It's unusual for a pope to address a local church in a pastoral letter

The Pope will address Irish Catholics in a pastoral letter, the Vatican announced in a press release yesterday. The statement comes following outrage about the catalog of sexual abuse of children uncovered in the Irish Commission of Investigation's Report into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin.

The Vatican said: "The Holy Father intends to address a Pastoral Letter to the faithful of Ireland in which he will clearly indicate the initiatives that are to be taken in response to the situation.

"His Holiness asks Catholics in Ireland and throughout the world to join him in praying for the victims, their families and all those affected by these heinous crimes.”

Dr. Vincent Twomey, a retired professor of moral theology at St. Patrick’s College Maynooth, told the Irish Times today that it is rare for a pope to address a local church through a pastoral letter.

Others quoted in the paper wondered if heads would roll and thought the letter could ask for “a significant reorganization of the church in Ireland.”

Papal letters are sent at times “of major crisis for both the church and the society” Dr Twomey said.

 At the end of the Vatican press statement the Pope expressed his support for those clergy who were not involved in abuse:

“Finally, His Holiness encourages all those who have dedicated their lives in generous service to children to persevere in their good works in imitation of Christ the Good Shepherd".