Video statement may spark new anger among Irish Catholics

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CBC News

Posted: Jun 17, 2012 6:35 PM ET

Last Updated: Jun 17, 2012 7:03 PM ET

Pope Benedict XVI risked angering Irish Catholics further on Sunday when he called sexual abuse by clergy a 'mystery.' AP file photo

Pope Benedict XVI risked angering Irish Catholics further on Sunday when he called sexual abuse by clergy a ‘mystery.’ AP file photo

Pope Benedict XVI told Irish Catholics on Sunday it is a “mystery” why priests and other church officials abused children entrusted in their care, undermining faith in the church “in an appalling way.”

By describing the decades of child abuse in Catholic parishes, schools and church-run institutions in Ireland as a mystery, the pontiff could further anger rank-and-file faithful in Ireland.

Benedict commented on the scandals of sexual abuse and coverups by church hierarchy in a pre-recorded video message for an outdoor Mass attended by 75,000 Catholics, many from overseas, in Ireland’s largest sports stadium. Ireland’s prime minister and president attended the Mass, the final event of a Eucharistic Congress aimed at shoring up flagging faith.

The weeklong Eucharistic Congress, held by the Vatican every four years in a different part of the world, took place against a backdrop of deep anger over child-abuse coverups and surveys showing declining weekly Mass attendance in Ireland, where church and state were once tightly entwined.

“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?” the Pope said, referring to church staff who abused children.

“It remains a mystery,” he said. “Yet evidently their Christianity was no longer nourished by joyful encounter with Jesus Christ. It had become merely a matter of habit.”

Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has said the church in Ireland is facing a grave fight for survival.

“Your forebears in the church in Ireland knew how to strive for holiness and constancy in their personal lives,” Benedict said in his message.

‘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 on sexual abuse by Catholic clergy

In a reference to the Vatican’s insistence on Sunday Mass attendance, Benedict said Catholic faith “is a legacy that is surely perfected and nourished” at Mass.

Yet, he said, “thankfulness and joy at such a great history of faith and love have recently been shaken in an appalling way by the revelation of sins committed by priests and consecrated persons against people entrusted to their care.”

“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 pedophile 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 pedophile priests, often by shuffling them from parish to parish without telling the faithful about the abuse.

8 Responses to Video statement may spark new anger among Irish Catholics

  1. Sylvia says:

    I will post the video a little later.

  2. PJ says:

    What an idiot…that church needs to be cleaned out from the top down to rid itself of the predators and pretenders (that everything is good in the church). Not until the coverups are uncovered and all those guilty of crimes or helping to hide the truth are punished will the church recover. We’ve got a long way to go for that, given what that moron has said. And I just read that his 2nd in charge is blaming the scandals on the devil. WOW.

  3. Mike says:

    *     I feel that Ratzinger has finally shown his real colours. There is no mystery in why these priests commit the criminal acts that they do. Any mental health expert will attest to that.
         I have maintained all along that any organization is only as good, or as bad, as it’s leader. It all runs downhill.
         His (Ratzinger’s) comment that this “all remains a mystery” is a direct and very harsh slap in the face of any victim of these “men of God”.       Mike.

  4. PJ says:

    Mike…makes me wonder if he has anything to keep hidden too?

  5. Mike says:

    *P.J.
         As he was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith for so many years, he has had intimate knowledge of these criminal acts by priests the entire world over. He was also a close buddy of the previous pope,  and that leads me to assume that the previous pope would have, or should have had, knowledge of these matters, especially Mgr. Bernard Prince.
         The remarkable thing in these matters is, he has done little or nothing to stop it, or to excersise his considerable authority in perhaps amending doctrine so these predators and criminals can be quickly and permanently removed from the catholic priesthood.
         I am left by myself to assume either one of two things;
      #1) Ratzinger is an incompetent fool who is not capable of leading a Christian organization.
       #2) He is a sly, mean-spirited little man who will continue to lead his “old boys club” down it’s well-beaten path, and continue to put even bigger locks on the Vatican’s secret vaults which are crammed full of really sick and twisted history.
         I really am still not sure which one of these to pick. It’s one way or the other.
        As to your suggestion about Ratzinger personally, who knows? I’m sure it’s possible, but to prove it….?  It will all boil down to which one of the above situations is real, eh? Misery loves company, so it stands to reason that if you want to soar like an eagle, you can’t hang out with turkeys.
        I guess what I’m trying to say is this; “Birds of a feather flock together”. It would stand to reason that your suggestion is likely full of merit. I myself believe so.     Mike.

  6. Mike Mc says:

    *”Pope Benedict XVI told Irish Catholics on Sunday it is a “mystery” why priests and other church officials abused children entrusted in their care…”

    A mystery? Really?

    They abused children for their own sexual gratification since they were sexually deprived people and they thought they could get away with it. They should have never entered the priesthood but were allowed to and not properly screened for sexual devient behaviour possibilities. They were probably confessing this so called “sin” and yet no confessor had the decency to report it because of an insane secrecy of confession rule. Probably some Bishop was eventually aware of their problem and sexual misconduct but  first chose to keep ‘mother church’ untarnished by sending the abusive priest to a house or hospital for his sexual issues and second to eventually recycle the priest in another parish where he committed the same crime again.

      So what is the  friggin’ mystery?

       I agree, this Pope is out of touch and feels his words are helping. Now there’s no mystery about that!

         As the lawsuits rise and the horrendous facts of clergy sexual abuse get revealed in this daily blog, I believe it will eventually get right back to the Pope and his own past and knowledge. Time will tell.

  7. Sylvia says:

    A good letter to the Editor re the Holy Father’s statement in the 20 June 2012 Irish Times:

    Sir, – Pope Benedict’s message to the Eucharistic Congress makes for startling reading. (Home News, June 18th). He tells us “Thankfulness and joy at such a great history of faith and love (of the Catholic Church in Ireland) have recently been shaken in an appalling way by the revelation of sins committed by priests and consecrated persons against people entrusted to their care”.

    What a monstrous perversion of the truth.

    It was not the sexual abuse of clerics and consecrated persons which has “shaken” people’s faith, but rather the attempts to cover up this abuse.

    People know that paedophilia exists in every walk of life and institution. What they can’t accept is that the Catholic bishops – up to its highest office – knew about it and tried to cover it up.

    The cover-up not only intensified the pain of those who were abused, but facilitated many more young people being abused as a paedophile priest or religious arrived fresh in their parish from a previous site of destruction – courtesy of a bishop! The arena was littered with bishops and cardinals – the very species responsible for the “shaking” of people’s faith!

    How shocking that the so-called Catholics in Croke Park allowed their leader to deceive them in this way. They even applauded his deception.

    Was their need to have a leader so great that they could not see the deception in his words – the continued cover-up? Were they so hypnotised by the glitter of mitres and purple that they could not hear what was false in their leader’s speech? – Yours, etc,

    DECLAN KELLY,
    Whitechurch
    Road,
    Rathfarnham,
    Dublin 14.

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