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article imagePope apologizes for Irish child abuse by Catholic priests

By Andrew John     Mar 20, 2010 in World
Pope Benedict XVI has apologized to the people of Ireland for the years of child abuse carried out by Catholic priests. But his critics are still fierce in their attacks on him.
In a much-anticipated pastoral letter to Irish Catholics, the Pope talks of a sense of betrayal felt by victims.
“The Pope said there had been ‘serious mistakes’ among bishops in responding to allegations of paedophilia,” says the BBC on its news pages.
“The pastoral letter is the first public statement by the Vatican on the sexual abuse of children, dating back decades. It follows revelations of paedophilia within the Irish Catholic Church, which have rocked the institution.”
Scandals involving Catholic priests have been reported in several countries, including the Pope’s own Germany, causing some critics to wonder whether the Catholic Church will ever live down the scandal.
Among the Vatican’s fiercest critics is the UK’s National Secular Society, whose director, Keith Porteous Wood, addressed the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
Wood speaks in the council for the International Humanist and Ethical Union. He said at a council meeting this week: “Billions of dollars – and euros – have already been paid out in respect of thousands of victims in the USA and Ireland. News of further abuse has since appeared in Austria, the Netherlands and now Germany – and this is just the tip of the iceberg.
“How much more evidence of children’s suffering at the hands of the Church will the UN and the international community tolerate before fulfilling their responsibility to those children to hold the Vatican to account?”
He continued: “The Vatican is a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child [the CRC mentioned in the video above], but has contravened several of its articles, and is more than 10 years behind in its reporting. It has habitually compounded the abuse and facilitated multiple reoffending by moving offenders around and shielding them from prosecuting authorities by imposing the ‘pontifical secret’.
“Major investigations in the USA and Ireland have been deliberately and cynically obstructed by the Church at all levels without censure from above. This includes the Vatican’s representative in Ireland, suggesting that he acted under instruction from the highest level in the Church. All this has led to abusers being allowed to continue offending and to escape justice, while their victims despair – some even committing suicide.
“The Church cannot claim it is being victimized. It still places the protection of its reputation, and even more its assets, above the protection of those entrusted to its care. Over 90 percent of the compensation payments paid by cash-strapped Ireland came from the taxpayers, including the abused themselves.
“When we raised this issue at the UN in September 2009, the Church blamed everyone else, but did promise one paltry paragraph on clerical abuse in its report to the UN. Even that mandatory report – already 13 years overdue and promised last September – has still not been filed with the UN.”
Wood said that after an instruction from the then Cardinal Ratzinger when he was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – the Vatican organization that used to be called the Inquisition – all suspicions and accusations of child abuse were to be sent to the Vatican in secret.
More about Pope Benedict, Pope, Catholic child abuse, Child abuse, Catholic Church
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