Pope in cathedral: shame at 'unspeakable crimes' of clerical abuse'

At a Mass at Westminster Cathedral, Pope Benedict has just spoken these words in his homily -- some of the strongest yet expressed on clerical sex abuse.

“Here too I think of the immense suffering caused by the abuse of children, especially within the Church and by her ministers. Above all I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes, along with my hope that the power of Christ’s grace, his sacrifice of reconciliation, will bring deep healing and peace to their lives. I also acknowledge, with you, the shame and the humiliation which all of us have suffered because of these sins; and I invite you to offer it to the Lord with trust that this chastisement will contribute to the healing of the victims, the purification of the Church and the renewal of the age-old commitment to the education and care of young people. I express my gratitude for the efforts being made to address this problem responsibly, and I ask all of you to show your concern for the victims and solidarity with your priests.”

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Craig McKee
8 years ago
''HOLLOW WORDS'' as one British observer commented on NBC news coverage of the visit. I have to agree just based on my own observation of Benedict's rather cold and dry reading of his script. Surely his English is good enough for him to understand the meaning and purported depth of his words, yet he delivers them with such a ''stiff upper lip'' devoid of any of the emotional content contained in the language he is using. And there is absolutely NO action behind his words, so they ring empty and untrue one more time. These appearances are getting more and more theatrical every time he steps on a plane. ''Oh what a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!''

p.s. There will be NO mass firings at any level for the simple reason that this would be an admission of guilt and open the floodgates for massive CIVIL litigation.
Kate Smith
8 years ago
Am I the only person who has noticed that Jesuit Superior General Adolfo Nicolas has been deaf, dumb and blind to the victims of sexual assault by Jesuits?


I am keeping careful, well documented records of his indifference and complete lack of pastoral concern for victims of Jesuits.


America Magazine covers the pope, curia and bishops, and gives Adolfo Nicolas a free pass for his incompetence.
Jack Barry
8 years ago
The depth of the Pope's sorrow is better demonstrated by his actions and inactions than by his words.  When two Irish bishops recently offered to resign because of their negligence in child abuse matters, Benedict XVI refused the offers.  The Pope found it deplorable when the Belgian government tried to pursue indications of crime concealed by Church authorities, now being revealed to the public.  The infamous Cardinal Law, subject only to the Pope and God, remains in his seat of high honor and works on shaping the character of the future Church's episcopate. 

It will become clear that the Pope understands the problem and is willing to deal with it when he summarily discards, by whatever means necessary, the 400 cardinals and bishops who are known to have done the most to preserve the Church's tradition of clerical sexual abuse.  
Molly Roach
8 years ago
I find the Pope's comments insincere because there are no actions accompanying these words.   The continuing train of comments reminds me of nothing so much as the scene from the Wizard of Oz when the ''wizard'' instructs Dorothy and friends to pay no attention to the man at the controls.  Pope Benedict is creating a phantasm of leadership, he is not leading.
J B
8 years ago
As Eliza Doolittle expressed so eloquently in song....


Words, words, words, I'm so sick of words......



The pope's crocodile tears and public breastbeating is getting old.  He talks, talks, talks and does absolutely nothing except a few photo ops with victims in every country.
James Caruso
8 years ago
Shouldn't molester priests necessarily be removed from proximity with children?  Has this not been done?  Should not those who find their drives too overwhelming to overcome be removed from the priesthood?  Has this not been done?  Should not those who are overcoming their weakness be removed from the proximity of children, continue to receive counseling and treatment, and be allowed to serve in a capacity that does not risk the consequences of future failure.  Has this not been done? 

Should not children who have been victimized by priests receive counseling and treatment at Church expense?  Should they not be treated with the utmost compassion and love by the Church?  Has the Church not made every effort to bring Christ's love and compassion into the lives of victims?

Should not Bishops and other Church leaders be reprimanded according to their level of guilt and responsibility?  Did they cover up these crimes for self-serving reasons?  Did they mean only to protect the Church?  Did they act without compassion for the victims of priest abuse?  Did they violate laws pertaining to the crimes that took place?  To what extent were they aware?  To what extent were they educated to the dangers of guilty priests as likely repeat offenders?  Did they act out of compassion for priests involved?  Did they understand their ultimate responsibility? 

Has not the Church made every effort possible to remedy this awful situation?  Do mass firings serve any purpose but to satisfy public demands for vengeance?  What would Christ do?  Has the Pope not done what Christ would have done?

I have only questions.  I cannot understand how anyone not intimately involved with the details of these cases, can do any more than ask similar questions.  Few are in a position to make judgments. I believe in this Pope and give him my support.  Let the healing begin.
Claire Mathieu
8 years ago
This is like a confession in the name of the church. It is good that the church is contrite for the sins of sexual abuse by clergy. We do not know for sure whether the motives are because they are forced by public disclosure of the crimes of many priests, but even if it is imperfect, it is still good that Pope Benedict expresses that contrition publicly. Now come the next necessary steps: acts to be performed by the church "in order to repair the harm ... and to re-establish habits befitting disciples of Christ." Without those acts, the words ring hollow.

-----

1491 The sacrament of Penance is a whole consisting in three actions of the penitent and the priest's absolution. The penitent's acts are repentance, confession or disclosure of sins to the priest, and the intention to make reparation and do works of reparation.

1492 Repentance (also called contrition) must be inspired by motives that arise from faith. If repentance arises from love of charity for God, it is called "perfect" contrition; if it is founded on other motives, it is called "imperfect."

1494 The confessor proposes the performance of certain acts of "satisfaction" or "penance" to be performed by the penitent in order to repair the harm caused by sin and to re-establish habits befitting a disciple of Christ.
Jack Barry
8 years ago
The questions by James Caruso form a good set of requirements that should be met.  One aspect needs improvement.  Priests who deserve it are to be removed.  In contrast, Bishops and other leaders who deserve it, those with authority and broad responsibilities, would be ''reprimanded''.  That privilege of rank has everything to do with why the abuse situation of recent decades has flourished as it has.  
The ''mass firings'', suggested above, are not at all for vengeance.  They are to remove from positions of influence and control (and honor) those whose demonstrated values have been shown to be destructive to the nature and purpose  of the Church.  
david power
8 years ago
James Caruso asks the right questions and also includes the right amount of doubt as to the various courses of action.Is it only human justice that we seek?I have read some articles including one excellent one by Julian Carron which discuss the role of Justice and how limited it is.
But the fact that some people are obsessed with Justice in a human way the truth is that it cannot be said that the Church hierarchy were not indifferent to human justice.
They moved with speed and determination to avoid it at all costs.
The attitude of the bishops was never otherworldly but more worldly than anyone in the pews could have probably managed. 
 The goalposts have also been moved a little bit in the comments by the Pope.This year was not primarily about the sexual abuse of children but about the concealment of it.The words of reproach would be better off pointed at the bishops who participated in it .The danger might now be to want to return to the comfortable faith of the past ,the very one that allowed the abuse of children and the silencing of victims for many many years.It could be a chance for us to embrace a faith more centred on Christ and less on the institution in its human dimensions.We need to have trust in the Church but I would love to see the next encyclical directed at the catholics of this world and how they should approach the bishops and their words etc "Trust ,but verify" I am sure that it would sound good in latin.     
Vince Killoran
8 years ago
What did the Pope know, when did her know it, and what did he do about it?
Jim McCrea
7 years 12 months ago
Vince:  maybe if the pope was a "her" she might have had a different approach to this situation.  "Holy Mother the Church" is the most egregious misnomer of church history.  There is nothing motherly about how those who have suffered from abusers and their enablers. 

Talk is very cheap, even if it is in That Very Sacred Language of Latin.

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