Essay:Response to the Papal letter of apology

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This is a response to Pope Benedict's letter of apology sent in response to decades of sexual abuse committed by the Catholic Church and Catholic orders in Ireland. The letter was released on in March of 2010, and was read to the faithful while attending mass.

The letter has attracted polarized responses. The faithful see it as a sincere apology from the Pope and the hope of proper action to be taken, while those more cynical would see it as being the Pope's attempt to extricate the Vatican from the mess by blaming the Irish church. As well as the Irish church, the Pope finds another rather odd scapegoat, but more on that later.

A PDF version of this letter can be downloaded from the Irish Times.

1. DEAR BROTHERS AND SISTERS OF THE CHURCH IN IRELAND, it is with great concern that I write to you as Pastor of the universal Church. Like yourselves, I have been deeply disturbed by the information which has come to light regarding the abuse of children and vulnerable young people by members of the Church in Ireland, particularly by priests and religious. I can only share in the dismay and the sense of betrayal that so many of you have experienced on learning of these sinful and criminal acts and the way Church authorities in Ireland dealt with them.

As you know, I recently invited the Irish bishops to a meeting here in Rome to give an account of their handling of these matters in the past and to outline the steps they have taken to respond to this grave situation. Together with senior officials of the Roman Curia, I listened to what they had to say, both individually and as a group, as they offered an analysis of mistakes made and lessons learned, and a description of the programmes and protocols now in place. Our discussions were frank and constructive. I am confident that, as a result, the bishops will now be in a stronger position to carry forward the work of repairing past injustices and confronting the broader issues associated with the abuse of minors in a way consonant with the demands of justice and the teachings of the Gospel.

The Pope has been criticized for addressing this letter specifically to Ireland, when in fact Catholic sexual abuse is a global problem for the Church - particularly in Germany where the Pope himself approved therapy for a pedophile priest while following the usual church practice of not wanting to bother the police with such trifles.[1] Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, displaying remarkable abilities of interpretation, explained that the Pope's letter addresses Catholics worldwide.[2] It may have been more reassuring if the opening of this letter has specifically referring to a willingness to pass-on their findings to the state law enforcement agencies. Catholic justice is inadequate to the task. These abusers belong in a court, not a confessional, and this is a global and systemic problem within the Catholic Church.[3]

2. For my part, considering the gravity of these offences, and the often inadequate response to them on the part of the ecclesiastical authorities in your country, I have decided to write this Pastoral Letter to express my closeness to you and to propose a path of healing, renewal and reparation.

It is true, as many in your country have pointed out, that the problem of child abuse is peculiar neither to Ireland nor to the Church. Nevertheless, the task you now face is to address the problem of abuse that has occurred within the Irish Catholic community, and to do so with courage and determination. No one imagines that this painful situation will be resolved swiftly. Real progress has been made, yet much more remains to be done. Perseverance and prayer are needed, with great trust in the healing power of God’s grace.

At the same time, I must also express my conviction that, in order to recover from this grievous wound, the Church in Ireland must first acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenceless children. Such an acknowledgement, accompanied by sincere sorrow for the damage caused to these victims and their families, must lead to a concerted effort to ensure the protection of children from similar crimes in the future.

As you take up the challenges of this hour, I ask you to remember “the rock from which you were hewn” (Is 51:1). Reflect upon the generous, often heroic, contributions made by past generations of Irish men and women to the Church and to humanity as a whole, and let this provide the impetus for honest self-examination and a committed programme of ecclesial and individual renewal. It is my prayer that, assisted by the intercession of her many saints and purified through penance, the Church in Ireland will overcome the present crisis and become once more a convincing witness to the truth and the goodness of Almighty God, made manifest in his Son Jesus Christ.

Again he specifically refers to the Irish church, distancing the Vatican from the terrible mess. This would perhaps be acceptable if he was the CEO of the restaurant chain Subway dealing with a franchisee who had been selling watered-down Coca-Cola, but wholly inadequate as the head of the Catholic Church dealing with sex abuse committed in one of the most traditionally Catholic countries in the world, and one that has in the past been a net exporter of clergy to the Vatican and their overseas interests. The Irish church is not an isolated backwater consisting of a back room with 16 chairs and a public address system and the Vatican cannot reasonably place the entire blame on the Irish church. This hypocrisy is enhanced by the Pope painting the Vatican as kindly coming to the rescue of those dumb Irish clerics. The Church in Ireland must certainly acknowledge the crimes it has perpetuated and covered-up, but the Vatican too must accept its duplicity in these crimes committed in Ireland and elsewhere. His appeals to prayer and guidance from God are worthless platitudes, and there'll be plenty more of those to come.

3. Historically, the Catholics of Ireland have proved an enormous force for good at home and abroad. Celtic monks like Saint Columbanus spread the Gospel in Western Europe and laid the foundations of medieval monastic culture. The ideals of holiness, charity and transcendent wisdom born of the Christian faith found expression in the building of churches and monasteries and the establishment of schools, libraries and hospitals, all of which helped to consolidate the spiritual identity of Europe. Those Irish missionaries drew their strength and inspiration from the firm faith, strong leadership and upright morals of the Church in their native land.

From the sixteenth century on, Catholics in Ireland endured a long period of persecution, during which they struggled to keep the flame of faith alive in dangerous and difficult circumstances. Saint Oliver Plunkett, the martyred Archbishop of Armagh, is the most famous example of a host of courageous sons and daughters of Ireland who were willing to lay down their lives out of fidelity to the Gospel. After Catholic Emancipation, the Church was free to grow once more. Families and countless individuals who had preserved the faith in times of trial became the catalyst for the great resurgence of Irish Catholicism in the nineteenth century. The Church provided education, especially for the poor, and this was to make a major contribution to Irish society. Among the fruits of the new Catholic schools was a rise in vocations: generations of missionary priests, sisters and brothers left their homeland to serve in every continent, especially in the English-speaking world. They were remarkable not only for their great numbers, but for the strength of their faith and the steadfastness of their pastoral commitment. Many dioceses, especially in Africa, America and Australia, benefited from the presence of Irish clergy and religious who preached the Gospel and established parishes, schools and universities, clinics and hospitals that served both Catholics and the community at large, with particular attention to the needs of the poor.

In almost every family in Ireland, there has been someone – a son or a daughter, an aunt or an uncle – who has given his or her life to the Church. Irish families rightly esteem and cherish their loved ones who have dedicated their lives to Christ, sharing the gift of faith with others, and putting that faith into action in loving service of God and neighbour.

It cannot be disputed that Catholics have indeed done good works, and will continue to do so. However, this hardly compensates for the systemic sexual violation of children placed under their care. Many have given their lives to the Church, some voluntarily and not at the point of a halberd. Catholics were persecuted, but they have clearly demonstrated the will and means to persecute others when given the chance. The Church is weakened in Europe, but would surely return to its old habits if the opportunity presented itself. I am not suggesting a return of the Auto de fé, but certainly the Church is certainly not tolerant of those its doctrine condemns. There are a great many Catholic institutions, such as hospitals and schools, doing fine work, but the problem is when the Church attaches strings to its services. Catholic adoption agencies in the United Kingdom threatened to discontinue their services if they not allowed to discriminate against homosexual couples seeking to adopt children.[4] The Church frequently seeks opt-outs to allow its discriminatory practices to continue, and unfortunately it tends to receive them. Secularism has dragged the Church kicking and screaming in to the 21st century, and evidence of this is seen in the Irish Constitution in which Church influence is evident and damaging to this day. Benedict forgets to mention the other achievements of the church in Ireland. They managed to hold back abortion, to the point where abortion remains illegal, except in cases where a mother's life may be at risk. Divorce was legalized in 1995, but remains some of the most draconian divorce legislation in Europe, with couples having to live apart for four years before a divorce can be granted.[5]

4. In recent decades, however, the Church in your country has had to confront new and serious challenges to the faith arising from the rapid transformation and secularization of Irish society. Fast-paced social change has occurred, often adversely affecting people’s traditional adherence to Catholic teaching and values. All too often, the sacramental and devotional practices that sustain faith and enable it to grow, such as frequent confession, daily prayer and annual retreats, were neglected. Significant too was the tendency during this period, also on the part of

priests and religious, to adopt ways of thinking and assessing secular realities without sufficient reference to the Gospel. The programme of renewal proposed by the Second Vatican Council was sometimes misinterpreted and indeed, in the light of the profound social changes that were taking place, it was far from easy to know how best to implement it. In particular, there was a well-intentioned but misguided tendency to avoid penal approaches to canonically irregular situations. It is in this overall context that we must try to understand the disturbing problem of child sexual abuse, which has contributed in no small measure to the weakening of faith and the loss of respect for the Church and her teachings.

Only by examining carefully the many elements that gave rise to the present crisis can a clear-sighted diagnosis of its causes be undertaken and effective remedies be found. Certainly, among the contributing factors we can include: inadequate procedures for determining the suitability of candidates for the priesthood and the religious life; insufficient human, moral, intellectual and spiritual formation in seminaries and novitiates; a tendency in society to favour the clergy and other authority figures; and a misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal, resulting in failure to apply existing canonical penalties and to safeguard the dignity of every person. Urgent action is needed to address these factors, which have had such tragic consequences in the lives of victims and their families, and have obscured the light of the Gospel to a degree that not even centuries of persecution succeeded in doing.

This is where we get to the real meat. Obviously it's those damn secularists who are at least partially to blame for Catholics' sexual abuse of children and the exploitation of vulnerable woman as slave labour in the infamous Magdalene laundries. The systemic abuse worldwide would surely have nothing to do with the Church thinking itself above secular law and standards of morality.

The Pope uses amazing weasel words in the phrase "there was a well-intentioned but misguided tendency to avoid penal approaches to canonically irregular situations." To begin with, how on earth is the protection of serial sex abuses well-intentioned? Is it well intentioned to shuffle serial-rapists between parishes of unsuspecting worshipers and their children? The Church had three possible reasons for protecting these abuses - the first being the mistaken belief that faith in God and Catholic sacraments would somehow cure serial sex-offenders and that's just plain delusional. The Church may have acted in the spirit of self-preservation, since it's hardly going to help them win converts if they're regularly handing priests over to the police. Finally, there's the arrogant sense of being above secular laws, and that seems a logical conclusion to draw in light of Catholic doctrine considering the Pope to be God's personally appointed representative on Earth. Would anyone concede to earthly authorities when the boss is on first name terms with God?

If the Pope is serious about secularism contributing to the sex abuse, then how does he explain sex abuse back in the 50s and 60s. Ireland was well and truly in thrall to the Catholic church back in those days, with few people willing to question the power of the clergy. In 2006 87% of Irish adults identified themselves as being Catholic, although it's true that this doesn't necessarily paint a true picture of the extent to which they practice their religion.[6]

5. On several occasions since my election to the See of Peter, I have met with victims of sexual abuse, as indeed I am ready to do in the future. I have sat with them, I have listened to their stories, I have acknowledged their suffering, and I have prayed with them and for them. Earlier in my pontificate, in my concern to address this matter, I asked the bishops of Ireland, “to establish the truth of what happened in the past, to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent it from occurring again, to ensure that the principles of justice are fully respected, and above all, to bring healing to the victims and to all those affected by these egregious crimes” (Address to the Bishops of Ireland, 28 October 2006).

With this Letter, I wish to exhort all of you, as God’s people in Ireland, to reflect on the wounds inflicted on Christ’s body, the sometimes painful remedies needed to bind and heal them, and the need for unity, charity and mutual support in the long-term process of restoration and ecclesial renewal. I now turn to you with words that come from my heart, and I wish to speak to each of you individually and to all of you as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

No mention here of abusers being turned-over to the authorities. Instead we must be content with platitudes and God's justice.

6. To the victims of abuse and their families

You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated. Many of you found that, when you were courageous enough to speak of what happened to you, no one would listen. Those of you who were abused in residential institutions must have felt that there was no escape from your sufferings. It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the Church. In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel. At the same time, I ask you not to lose hope. It is in the communion of the Church that we encounter the person of Jesus Christ, who was himself a victim of injustice and sin. Like you, he still bears the wounds of his own unjust suffering. He understands the depths of your pain and its enduring effect upon your lives and your relationships, including your relationship with the Church. I know some of you find it difficult even to enter the doors of a church after all that has occurred. Yet Christ’s own wounds, transformed by his redemptive sufferings, are the very means by which the power of evil is broken and we are reborn to life and hope. I believe deeply in the healing power of his self-sacrificing love – even in the darkest and most hopeless situations – to bring liberation and the promise of a new beginning.

Speaking to you as a pastor concerned for the good of all God’s children, I humbly ask you to consider what I have said. I pray that, by drawing nearer to Christ and by participating in the life of his Church – a Church purified by penance and renewed in pastoral charity – you will come to rediscover Christ’s infinite love for each one of you. I am confident that in this way you will be able to find reconciliation, deep inner healing and peace.

The Pope doesn't want the victims to quit his fruity little club and tries to portray their suffering as ultimately something that can be a positive thing. Jesus was tortured and killed for the salvation of humanity. Is the Pope suggesting that a priest inserting his penis in to a child is has a similarly spiritual importance? This appears to be a reiteration of the Church's traditional view on suffering as being a way to get closer to God. Unfortunately senior clergy may have to struggle here, as there was one Bishop in Wexford known for his particularly well stocked wine cellar and fine dining.[7]

7. To priests and religious who have abused children

You betrayed the trust that was placed in you by innocent young people and their parents, and you must answer for it before Almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals. You have forfeited the esteem of the people of Ireland and brought shame and dishonour upon your confreres. Those of you who are priests violated the sanctity of the sacrament of Holy Orders in which Christ makes himself present in us and in our actions. Together with the immense harm done to victims, great damage has been done to the Church and to the public perception of the priesthood and religious life.

I urge you to examine your conscience, take responsibility for the sins you have committed, and humbly express your sorrow. Sincere repentance opens the door to God’s forgiveness and the grace of true amendment. By offering prayers and penances for those you have wronged, you should seek to atone personally for your actions. Christ’s redeeming sacrifice has the power to forgive even the gravest of sins, and to bring forth good from even the most terrible evil. At the same time, God’s justice summons us to give an account of our actions and to conceal nothing. Openly acknowledge your guilt, submit yourselves to the demands of justice, but do not despair of God’s mercy.

This may be a positive message, since it would certainly help for the abusers to openly admit their crimes and accept punishment under the law. One thing that has caused a great hinderance and additional harm to victims has been the tendency of the religious orders of Ireland to hide their guilty brothers and sisters. Thus far the Church and various Catholic Orders have been given a pretty easy time by the Irish Government, in particular when their financial obligations were capped at around a tenth of the true cost of supporting and compensating victims, and the names of abusers were absent from the report produced by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.[8] It should be noted that during that commission the Church and various Catholic orders were strongly criticized for being evasive, thus prolonging the suffering of the victims, which in some cases had already blighted decades of their lives.

8. To parents

You have been deeply shocked to learn of the terrible things that took place in what ought to be the safest and most secure environment of all. In today’s world it is not easy to build a home and to bring up children. They deserve to grow up in security, loved and cherished, with a strong sense of their identity and worth. They have a right to be educated in authentic moral values rooted in the dignity of the human person, to be inspired by the truth of our Catholic faith and to learn ways of behaving and acting that lead to healthy self-esteem and lasting happiness. This noble but demanding task is entrusted in the first place to you, their parents. I urge you to play your part in ensuring the best possible care of children, both at home and in society as a whole, while the Church, for her part, continues to implement the measures adopted in recent years to protect young people in parish and school environments. As you carry out your vital responsibilities, be assured that I remain close to you and I offer you the support of my prayers.

Parents have the prayers of the Pope and not much else. The promise that the Church is adopting measure to protect children doesn't really inspire confidence, and it may be wiser to take this as a warning to parents that they should keep children away from priests.

9. To the children and young people of Ireland

I wish to offer you a particular word of encouragement. Your experience of the Church is very different from that of your parents and grandparents. The world has changed greatly since they were your age. Yet all people, in every generation, are called to travel the same path through life, whatever their circumstances may be. We are all scandalized by the sins and failures of some of the Church's members, particularly those who were chosen especially to guide and serve young people. But it is in the Church that you will find Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and for ever (cf. Heb 13:8). He loves you and he has offered himself on the cross for you. Seek a personal relationship with him within the communion of his Church, for he will never betray your trust! He alone can satisfy your deepest longings and give your lives their fullest meaning by directing them to the service of others. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and his goodness, and shelter the flame of faith in your heart. Together with your fellow Catholics in Ireland, I look to you to be faithful disciples of our Lord and to bring your much-needed enthusiasm and idealism to the rebuilding and renewal of our beloved Church.

The children of today have a very different experience of the Catholic Church and Catholic-run facilities. For one, it's now illegal for the Christian Brothers to thrash their charges with leather straps weighted down with lead or coins.[9]

10. To the priests and religious of Ireland

All of us are suffering as a result of the sins of our confreres who betrayed a sacred trust or failed to deal justly and responsibly with allegations of abuse. In view of the outrage and indignation which this has provoked, not only among the lay faithful but among yourselves and your religious communities, many of you feel personally discouraged, even abandoned. I am also aware that in some people’s eyes you are tainted by association, and viewed as if you were somehow responsible for the misdeeds of others. At this painful time, I want to acknowledge the dedication of your priestly and religious lives and apostolates, and I invite you to reaffirm your faith in Christ, your love of his Church and your confidence in the Gospel's promise of redemption, forgiveness and interior renewal. In this way, you will demonstrate for all to see that where sin abounds, grace abounds all the more (cf. Rom 5:20).

I know that many of you are disappointed, bewildered and angered by the way these matters have been handled by some of your superiors. Yet, it is essential that you cooperate closely with those in authority and help to ensure that the measures adopted to respond to the crisis will be truly evangelical, just and effective. Above all, I urge you to become ever more clearly men and women of prayer, courageously following the path of conversion, purification and reconciliation. In this way, the Church in Ireland will draw new life and vitality from your witness to the Lord's redeeming power made visible in your lives.

Anyone self-identifying as a Catholic should quite correctly feel personally discouraged, and culpable. The abuse in Ireland has not happened in silence, but we as a nation have had a vow of silence - refusing to confront the abusers and their supporters.

The Catholic Church has cultivated an environment in which the welfare of abusers and the protection of the church is placed above the need to protect the victims of abuse. This is why I have nothing but contempt and disgust for Catholics. Only a minority of Catholics have taken part and supported this abuse, but all Catholics today provide a tacit support for the abusers by retaining their association with the church. This is not the same as proclaiming a hatred of Christians - which I certainly do not.

The Catholic Church is not Christianity as a whole. Catholicism has a very clear doctrine, and places great emphasis on the hierarchy of the church. The suffering of Catholics and the clergy is nothing compared to that which they continue to inflict on others. I consider Christianity to be a jumbled set of inconsistent beliefs and the abdication of personal responsibility to an imaginary power, but I can't hold Christians are a diverse bunch, with no overall hierarchy. When someone identifies as a Catholic, I see them as being no different to someone who retains membership of a criminal organization because of the wonderful social work they do when not extorting and beating dissenters.

11. To my brother bishops

It cannot be denied that some of you and your predecessors failed, at times grievously, to apply the long-established norms of canon law to the crime of child abuse. Serious mistakes were made in responding to allegations. I recognize how difficult it was to grasp the extent and complexity of the problem, to obtain reliable information and to make the right decisions in the light of conflicting expert advice. Nevertheless, it must be admitted that grave errors of judgement were made and failures of leadership occurred. All this has seriously undermined your credibility and effectiveness. I appreciate the efforts you have made to remedy past mistakes and to guarantee that they do not happen again. Besides fully implementing the norms of canon law in addressing cases of child abuse, continue to cooperate with the civil authorities in their area of competence. Clearly, religious superiors should do likewise. They too have taken part in recent discussions here in Rome with a view to establishing a clear and consistent approach to these matters. It is imperative that the child safety norms of the Church in Ireland be continually revised and updated and that they be applied fully and impartially in conformity with canon law.

Only decisive action carried out with complete honesty and transparency will restore the respect and good will of the Irish people towards the Church to which we have consecrated our lives. This must arise, first and foremost, from your own self-examination, inner purification and spiritual renewal. The Irish people rightly expect you to be men of God, to be holy, to live simply, to pursue personal conversion daily. For them, in the words of Saint Augustine, you are a bishop; yet with them you are called to be a follower of Christ (cf. Sermon 340, 1). I therefore exhort you to renew your sense of accountability before God, to grow in solidarity with your people and to deepen your pastoral concern for all the members of your flock. In particular, I ask you to be attentive to the spiritual and moral lives of each one of your priests. Set them an example by your own lives, be close to them, listen to their concerns, offer them encouragement at this difficult time and stir up the flame of their love for Christ and their commitment to the service of their brothers and sisters.

The lay faithful, too, should be encouraged to play their proper part in the life of the Church. See that they are formed in such a way that they can offer an articulate and convincing account of the Gospel in the midst of modern society (cf. 1 Pet 3:15) and cooperate more fully in the Church’s life and mission. This in turn will help you once again become credible leaders and witnesses to the redeeming truth of Christ.

There is again a positive call here to cooperate with secular authorities, but the Church has demonstrated little willingness to do this. I would be impressed if the bishops actually manage to set an example, but I doubt this will happen in all cases. Bishops are just as fallible as any man, but they're in a situation of delusional belief and rigid dehumanizing doctrine. It's hardly surprising that abuse occurs, and I fully expect it to continue. What's important though is that bishops make no attempts to conceal the abusers and their crimes, and that would be a truly fresh approach for them to take. The Pope, himself formerly a bishop, set a very poor example - as outlined in the response to section 1.

12. To all the faithful of Ireland

A young person’s experience of the Church should always bear fruit in a personal and life-giving encounter with Jesus Christ within a loving, nourishing community. In this environment, young people should be encouraged to grow to their full human and spiritual stature, to aspire to high ideals of holiness, charity and truth, and to draw inspiration from the riches of a great religious and cultural tradition. In our increasingly secularized society, where even we Christians often find it difficult to speak of the transcendent dimension of our existence, we need to find new ways to pass on to young people the beauty and richness of friendship with Jesus Christ in the communion of his Church. In confronting the present crisis, measures to deal justly with individual crimes are essential, yet on their own they are not enough: a new vision is needed, to inspire present and future generations to treasure the gift of our common faith. By treading the path marked out by the Gospel, by observing the commandments and by conforming your lives ever more closely to the figure of Jesus Christ, you will surely experience the profound renewal that is so urgently needed at this time. I invite you all to persevere along this path.

Perhaps summed up as "Spend more time converting children to Catholicism and less time screwing them".

13. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, it is out of deep concern for all of you at this painful time in which the fragility of the human condition has been so starkly revealed that I have wished to offer these words of encouragement and support. I hope that you will receive them as a sign of my spiritual closeness and my confidence in your ability to respond to the challenges of the present hour by drawing renewed inspiration and strength from Ireland’s noble traditions of fidelity to the Gospel, perseverance in the faith and steadfastness in the pursuit of holiness. In solidarity with all of you, I am praying earnestly that, by God’s grace, the wounds afflicting so many individuals and families may be healed and that the Church in Ireland may experience a season of rebirth and spiritual renewal. Ireland's tradition close links with the Catholic Church have resulting in a backwards nation struggling to remove the Church from its undeserved position of power within the republic. Human rights, taken for granted in other countries, are lacking or received as a result of secular pressure and the need to abide by European human rights legislation. What we need is for the Church to be chased in to the sea, in order that Ireland finally become its own independent nation. We broke free from the English only to surrender ourselves to another foreign nation - the Vatican.

14. I now wish to propose to you some concrete initiatives to address the


At the conclusion of my meeting with the Irish bishops, I asked that Lent this year be set aside as a time to pray for an outpouring of God’s mercy and the Holy Spirit’s gifts of holiness and strength upon the Church in your country. I now invite all of you to devote your Friday penances, for a period of one year, between now and Easter 2011, to this intention. I ask you to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland. I encourage you to discover anew the sacrament of Reconciliation and to avail yourselves more frequently of the transforming power of its grace.

Particular attention should also be given to Eucharistic adoration, and in every diocese there should be churches or chapels specifically devoted to this purpose. I ask parishes, seminaries, religious houses and monasteries to organize periods of Eucharistic adoration, so that all have an opportunity to take part. Through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord, you can make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm, at the same time imploring the grace of renewed strength and a deeper sense of mission on the part of all bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful.

I am confident that this programme will lead to a rebirth of the Church in Ireland in the fullness of God’s own truth, for it is the truth that sets us free (cf. Jn 8:32).

Furthermore, having consulted and prayed about the matter, I intend to hold an Apostolic Visitation of certain dioceses in Ireland, as well as seminaries and religious congregations. Arrangements for the Visitation, which is intended to assist the local Church on her path of renewal, will be made in cooperation with the competent offices of the Roman Curia and the Irish Episcopal Conference. The details will be announced in due course.

I also propose that a nationwide Mission be held for all bishops, priests and religious. It is my hope that, by drawing on the expertise of experienced preachers and retreat-givers from Ireland and from elsewhere, and by exploring anew the conciliar documents, the liturgical rites of ordination and profession, and recent pontifical teaching, you will come to a more profound appreciation of your respective vocations, so as to rediscover the roots of your faith in Jesus Christ and to drink deeply from the springs of living water that he offers you through his Church.

In this Year for Priests, I commend to you most particularly the figure of Saint John Mary Vianney, who had such a rich understanding of the mystery of the priesthood. “The priest”, he wrote, “holds the key to the treasures of heaven: it is he who opens the door: he is the steward of the good Lord; the administrator of his goods.” The Curé d’Ars understood well how greatly blessed a community is when served by a good and holy priest: “A good shepherd, a pastor after God’s heart, is the greatest treasure which the good Lord can grant to a parish, and one of the most precious gifts of divine mercy.” Through the intercession of Saint John Mary Vianney, may the priesthood in Ireland be revitalized, and may the whole Church in Ireland grow in appreciation for the great gift of the priestly ministry.

I take this opportunity to thank in anticipation all those who will be involved in the work of organizing the Apostolic Visitation and the Mission, as well as the many men and women throughout Ireland already working for the safety of children in church environments. Since the time when the gravity and extent of the problem of child sexual abuse in Catholic institutions first began to be fully grasped, the Church has done an immense amount of work in many parts of the world in order to address and remedy it. While no effort should be spared in improving and updating existing procedures, I am encouraged by the fact that the current safeguarding practices adopted by local Churches are being seen, in some parts of the world, as a model for other institutions to follow.

I wish to conclude this Letter with a special Prayer for the Church in Ireland, which I send to you with the care of a father for his children and with the affection of a fellow Christian, scandalized and hurt by what has occurred in our beloved Church. As you make use of this prayer in your families, parishes and communities, may the Blessed Virgin Mary protect and guide each of you to a closer union with her Son, crucified and risen. With great affection and unswerving confidence in God’s promises, I cordially impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of strength and peace in the Lord.

From the Vatican, 19 March 2010, on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph

What the hell will prayer and fasting achieve? Perhaps Catholics would benefit from actually reading the book their religion is based on! The Church, in its hundred of years of existence, failed utterly to abide by the teachings of Christ. Much of Church doctrine exists in actual opposition to his teachings, and the actions of the Church certainly cast severe doubt on its ability to act as Christ's church on Earth. Catholics are world class manufacturers and respecters of graven images, as a quick visit to any church will demonstrate, and they've since their inception expressed their worship through trinkets, idols, and relics. Catholics do not have a monopoly on revering odd things, what with Jesus appearing to protestants in the form of toasted cheese sandwiches, but Irish Catholics in 2009 flocked to pay homage to a tree stump in the belief that it was a divine manifestation of Mary.[10]

Catholic ritual makes a mockery of Matthew 6:5-7, through the complexity, repetition and rigidity of Catholic acts of worship and contrition. The famous rosary beads are used to keep count of the number of repetitions made, surely leading the faithful closer to the pagan traditions of chanting mantras in the hope of appeasing a god.

The Catholic Church is certainly not in any way comparable to the humble life led by Jesus, and it should surely be considered odd that the Pope lives in comfort that that son of God would not have dreamt of.


  1. Abuse Scandal in Germany Edges Closer to Pope
  2. Pope's apology also a warning for Germany: archbishop He may have specifically addressed the letter to the Irish church, but he intended it for all Catholic orders, and probably zebras and cyborgs. He just forgot to mention those bits.
  3. Here we go.. abusing all over the world
  4. Churches unite over adoption row They were joined in opposition to this by the Church of England.
  5. Divorce in ireland
  6. Irish Census (PDF) Alas, Ireland has few Jedi.
  7. This is a story relayed to the writer by their uncle, and perhaps should be removed if this article moves out of essay space
  8. Wikipedia has a detailed outline of this commission and it's findings.
  9. There are many cases of this, although they should be read as personal accounts - not proven allegations. Christian Brothers beat children with weighted leather straps. The writer of this article's elderly relatives have given similar accounts, the leather strap with lead sewn in to it being a recurring theme. Why I joined and left the Christian Brothers - an account of sexual frustration, and anger released by inflicting corporal punishment on children in their care.
  10. Residents attempt to save tree stump they say depicts Our Lady