VATICAN CITY (CNS): Pope Benedict XVI said priestly sexual abuse of minors was a “heart-rending” tragedy that requires an effort of purification by the Church.
Addressing Ireland’s bishops at the Vatican on October 28, the Pope encouraged them to establish the truth of past sex abuse cases, take steps to prevent future crimes and bring healing to the victims.
The Pope’s remarks to the bishops, at the end of their ad limina visit to the Vatican, were his most extensive public comments on priestly sex abuse since his election in April 2005.
Irish Church leaders have had to deal with hundreds of allegations of clerical sexual abuse, many of which came to light in recent years.
The bishops set up an advisory committee and an independent, lay-led commission to study the problem, and earlier this year published “Our Children, Our Church”, a child protection policy that included new measures more consistent with state procedures.
In their private talks with Vatican agencies, Irish bishops said they were encouraged to continue their efforts to deal with sexual abuse and to develop the policies expressed in “Our Children, Our Church”.