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Pope Benedict XVI

Preview of Pope Benedict XVI's message to Ireland

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Pope Benedict XVI

In a preview of Pope Benedict' s letter to the Irish people, expected on Ash Wednesday, which falls on February 17, the Pope will "acknowledge the tremendous contribution of the Irish to the church worldwide from the time of the golden age of monasticism to the modern missionary movement.

"The Pope will express his complete abhorrence at clerical child sexual abuse. There may well be a call for a proper understanding of proper sexual health among clergy but also in society, and a re-statement of the church’s position on healthy sexual morality.”

The preview was offered by Garry O’Sullivan, editor of Irish Catholic, writing in The Irish Times and quoting senior church sources. In the piece he continues:

“He will commend the child protection initiatives taken to date and ask that they be brought to fruition within the church. Finally, he will call on the whole Irish church to sit in fellowship and ask that the Gospel be preached by clergy and religious, working together with the laity in order to bring about the renewal of Gospel values and faith in the Irish church. "

O'Sullivan also stated that the Dublin archdiocese intends to become a " national champion" for children and demand that every other civil institution be held to its standards.

The Dublin archdiocese has been at the center of the horrific child abuse allegations contained in the recent Murphy report that resulted in the firing of four bishops to date.

O'Sullivan quoted Archbishop Diarmuid Martin as stating that the diocese will be transformed  "because when you have seismic moments you need a qualitative leap to a different view of church.

"By establishing the archdiocese as a national leader in child protection Archbishop Martin would position himself as a champion for Irish children and challenge the State and its institutions to follow suit at a time when the State is cutting resources to social services."

O'Sullivan asks: "If 4 per cent of abusers are clergy or religious (SAVI Report 2002), then who is championing the rights of the children affected by the other 96 per cent?"

He also states that "Archbishop Martin will push ahead with reforms in the Dublin archdiocese based on his experience of the church in Europe, removing the failed structures so clearly identified in the Murphy report and distancing the archdiocese as fully as possible from those priests who were “collectively responsible” for what his administration agrees was a “cover-up.”

O'Sullivan says there are bright days ahead for the Dublin archdiocese. "Change is being talked about; the albatross of mismanagement is finally being removed, and the diocese will be positioned to expend all its energies in reaching out and ministering to people in the challenges of their daily lives, the life and death stuff that they, priests, were ordained for.

“For the Dublin archdiocese and the Irish church, in 2010, at last, there will be good news."

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