On Sunday in Ireland, Pope Benedict XVI addressed an estimated 75,000 Catholics and proclaimed that the reasons untold thousands of priests have abused untold thousands of children remains a “mystery.” Before he became Pope, he was Cardinal Ratzinger, and responsible for addressing the thousands of cases of pedophile priests.
“How are we to explain the fact that people who regularly received the Lord’s body and confessed their sins in the sacrament of Penance have offended in this way? It remains a mystery,” Pope Benedict XVI stated. “Yet evidently their Christianity was no longer nourished by joyful encounter with Jesus Christ. It had become merely a matter of habit.”
Irish Catholics are among the most hostile to the Vatican, and the pedophile priests tragedy has affected them immensely.
“By describing the decades of child abuse in Catholic parishes, schools and church-run institutions and parishes in Ireland as a ‘mystery’, the pontiff could further anger rank-and-file faithful in Ireland,” News 24 reports:
“Instead of showing them the path towards Christ, toward God, instead of bearing witness to his goodness, they abused people and undermined the credibility of the church’s message,” the pope said.
For more than a decade, advocates for those abused by clergy have been demanding that church leaders in Ireland and at the Vatican accept blame for protecting paedophile priests.
Four state-ordered investigations have documented how tens of thousands of children from the 1940s to the 1990s suffered sexual, physical and mental abuse at the hands of priests, nuns and church staff in three Irish dioceses and in a network of workhouse-style residential schools.
In Ireland, the United States and many other countries, bishops and other church leaders have been accused of systematically covering up paedophile priests, often by shuffling them from parish to parish without telling the faithful about the abuse.
Benedict’s evoking “mystery” disappointed the victims’ advocacy group Snap, or Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. A Snap official, Barbara Dorris, said the pope was speaking in “platitudes, refusing to even accurately name the crisis”.
“The pontiff’s wrong: There’s little mystery here,” said Dorris in an e-mailed statement.
She cited priests’ having “sometimes almost absolute power, over devout and defenceless kids”, as well as bishops who abuse power and “ignore, hide and enable heinous crimes against kids”.
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