Pope Benedict Apology Acknowledges 'Serious Mistakes'World | March 20, 2010, Saturday // 18:16| views
Pope Benedict XVI has apologised to the Catholics of Ireland for the sexual abuse scandal involving clerics. Photo by BGNES
Pope Benedict XVI has published a letter of apology to Irish Catholics, following the revelations of systematic sexual abuse by clerics.
The pastoral letter is the first statement of this kind by the Vatican, and refers to "serious mistakes" among bishops in responding to allegations of pedophilia.
The letter stated that the Pope was "truly sorry" for the suffering and betrayal of the victims of abuse.
"Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated... I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel."
He said that all those guilty of abuse must "answer before God and properly constituted tribunals for the sinful and criminal actions they have committed".
However, the Pope's statement may fall short of demands by victims' groups for an admission that abuse was systematically covered up. The only direct reference to cover-ups is to "a misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal".
The leader of one Irish victims' group stated that she was disappointed the Papal letter did not acknowledge any responsibility of the Vatican in the crisis.
"We are really disappointed that there is no acknowledgment that the cover-up and the policy of cover-up in the church went right to the Vatican," said Maeve Lewis, executive director of One in Four.
Scandals involving Catholic priests have also been reported in other countries, including the Pope's native Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Austria and the US.
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