In Ireland, news that Pope Benedict is sending a letter on the
Catholic sex abuse scandal was met by disagreement over whether the
church can regain its moral authority. The letter will be made
Pope Benedict XVI has written a pastoral letter to Irish Roman
Catholics on the issue of preventing and punishing sexual abuse of
children by priests - but opinion here is divided on whether the
church can ever regain its moral authority.
The papal letter, expected later today, follows a series of
accusatory Irish government reports last year into pedophilia within
the Irish Roman Catholic Church.Pope Benedict says he hopes the
communication, to be made public Saturday, "will help in the process
of repentance, healing, and renewal."
Garry O'Sullivan, editor of the Irish Catholic, a weekly
newspaper independent of the church, says if it is to have any
impact at all, the letter needs to address the church's culpability.
"The hope is it will have a fulsome apology. The victims want the
pope to make a proper admission of a systemic cover-up, not just
minimize it as a few problems," he says.
Cardinal embroiled in scandal over priest
The letter comes as Cardinal Sean Brady, head of the Irish
Church, finds himself embroiled in a scandal surrounding the late
Rev. Brendan Smyth. Father Smyth abused children from the 1940s
onward, and was moved from parish to parish, including a stint in
the United States, which was when the church became aware of it.
In 1975, Cardinal Brady, then a priest, was present when two of
Smyth's victims were asked to sign an oath of secrecy. Brady did not
inform the statutory authorities.
Speaking on the national radio program Morning Ireland, Auxiliary
Bishop of Down and Connor Donal McKeown said Cardinal Brady made a
'bad decision' and regretted very much.
Calls for his resignation, including from Sinn Fein's Martin
McGuinness, deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, were met with
refusal - Brady told BBC Radio he will only go if asked to do so by
the pope. He says he was working in a clerical position at the time
and that he appropriately discharged responsibilities by providing
senior clerics with the information on Father Smyth.
Garry O'Sullivan says the "culture of secrecy" was a nationwide
phenomenon at the time: "It was 1975 - the culture then in the
guards [police], the church, and politics was one of secrecy. People
went to the church [with allegations of abuse] because they believed
the good bishop would sort out the dirty priest. …