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Abuse: Irish letter on Saturday, CDF guidelines underway, Zollitsch defends Pope

As clerical abuse stories continue to dominate the news — with Ireland’s Cardinal Sean Brady apologising for abuse yesterday amidst calls for his resignation while a senior Irish churchman said that he would not necessarily report an abusive priest to the police on a television programme — the Vatican is gearing into action.

John Allen offers a really good piece explaining Pope Benedict’s attitudes to clerical abuse and why the case in his former diocese  of Munich matters to the way in which he can effectively tackle the problem.

Yesterday the Holy See announced the publication of the Pope’s Letter to the Irish Bishops which will be addressing the Irish abuse crisis, but is understood to address abuse on a wider level as scandals unfold across Europe and now Brazil.  The Pope will sign it on Friday and it is due to appear on Saturday in English and Italian. Rome watchers expected it to be published in Holy Week, so it looks like the Pope — who is slow and considered — is trying to move as quickly as he can on this.

“As you know”, said Pope Benedict XVI announcing the letter, “in recent months the Church in Ireland has been severely shaken as a result of the child abuse crisis. As a sign of my deep concern I have written a Pastoral Letter dealing with this painful situation. I will sign it on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the guardian of the Holy Family and patron of the Universal Church, and send it soon after. I ask all of you to read it for yourselves, with an open heart and in a spirit of faith. My hope is that it will help in the process of repentance, healing and renewal”.

Rocco Palmo reminds his readers of the Pope’s four points for dealing with sexual abuse which he presented to the Irish bishops during their 2006 ad limina visit.

The letter is expected to be “pastoral” says Vaticanista Paolo Rodari on Twitter.

After his audience with Pope Benedict XVI, the head of the German bishops’ conference Archbishop Robert Zollitsch announced that the Pope had approved the German bishops’ guidelines relating to clerical sex abuse.

He also announced that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had started work on a set of rules for tackling abuse of minors in the universal Church. He said the Curial department would be examining the rules and regulations that have been adopted in bishops’ conferences around the world and draw on the experiences of various different countries.

Responding to accusations in the German papers such as the Spiegel and Die Zeit that the Pope was maintaining silence vis-à-vis the German abuse scandal, Archbishop Zollitsch wrote an article defending the Pope in Die Welt, yesterday.

Here is my  translation:

My Pope. Your Pope. These days the Pope has hold forth for many things. Often enough nobody wants to hear him, now he is widely being reproached that he is silent on the subject of the abuse scandals within the Catholic Church in Germany.

What sorts of things will then be then still demanded from this man tomorrow? That he takes part in round tables? That he thins out the tangle of statutory periods of limitation or claims for compensation?

Everyone formulates his own demands of the Pope just as he needs them. Simple, practical,good. The wonderment on the on-line edition of one German newspaper about why the Pope had not yet made a comment to the terrible events in the school in the Odenwald [a non-Catholic UNESCO school where abuse cases came to light in recent months]proves just how much the ability to judge has lost its orientation.

The fable of the silent Pope often ignores the fact that there is not a Pope for German and not a Pope for Spain. There is only one Pope for the whole world-wide Church.

Accordingly, Benedict XVI must weigh up intelligently when ,where, in which form and to whom he says what. Demands are quickly thrown into the room that the Pope must take a position on the German problem because he is German.

This is as short-sighted as it is superficial. The head of the Catholic Church must find words for the terrible abuse of minors which will be heard in all the world and which will count for everyone even if they are spoken in a certain country.

He has found them. The weight of a word does not grow the number of times it is repeated. This is true in life, in existential thing especially.

I know from my conversation with the Pope, how much he is shaken by the abuse of children through priests, especially in Germany. He has spoken unmistakable spoken about this – as he says himself—“abominable crime”: “Not one of my words could describe the pain and sufferings caused by such abuse. I also cannot frame the damage which arisen in the body of the Church in adequate words.”

During his visit in the United States he challenged us—and that counts for the whole world—to do everything within our power “to advance healing and reconciliation” and to support those who were hurt.

What should the Pope say that is new? His words have validity and consequences. As bad as the situation in Germany is: What has been said should not be constantly repeated. That which has already been said retains its weight if it is not continuously repeated.

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  1. [...] wonderfully persistent Anna Arco of the UK’s best Catholic weekly, The Catholic Herald, has provided a translation of the [...]


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