VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI rebuked Irish bishops Saturday for "grave errors of judgment" in handling clerical sex abuse cases and ordered an investigation into the Irish church. But he laid no blame for the problem on the Vatican's policies of keeping such cases secret.
In a letter to the Irish faithful read across Europe amid a growing, multination abuse scandal, the pope apologized to victims but doled out no specific punishments to bishops blamed by Irish government-ordered investigations for having covered up abuse of thousands of Irish children from the 1930s to the 1990s.
Ireland's main group of clerical-abuse victims, One in Four, said it was deeply disappointed by the letter because it failed to place responsibility with the Vatican for what it called a "deliberate policy of the Catholic Church at the highest levels to protect sex offenders, thereby endangering children."
It's not surprising to me that this is what we get when the head of the church has his own degree of responsibility in the very mess he is investigating.
In particular, the so-called Murphy report faulted the 2001 secrecy letter penned by then-Cardinal Ratzinger, who headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for a quarter-century before becoming pope, making him the most informed Vatican official about the global scale of clerical abuse.
Shame on the Pope for this blatant attempt to deny true responsibility. When friends ask, I point to actions like this to explain why I feel that the Church is moving farther and farther away from me.