On Monday and Tuesday last (15th and 16th February) Pope Benedict XVI met with the Diocesan bishops of Ireland. Ten senior Vatican Officials also attended the meeting.
The idea of such a meeting was broached by Pope Benedict when he met with Cardinal Brady and me in December last. On that occasion the Pope expressed his regret, outrage, betrayal and shame on what had been chronicled in the Murphy Report. He also announced that he intended to write a pastoral letter to the Church in Ireland.
The aim of this week’s meeting was to listen to the Irish Bishops and to the reactions they had garnered from survivors and from Catholic faithful to the tragic events of abuse which were chronicled in the Murphy and to the “failure of the Irish Church authorities for many years to act effectively in dealing with such abuse”. It was recognised that in addition to the terrible harm done to survivors, this failure had damaged “the Church’s spiritual and moral credibility”.
Pope Benedict challenged the bishops to address the problems of the past with determination and resolve.
Texts which had been given to various bishops from survivors groups and individual survivors were given to Pope Benedict.
Before going to Rome I met with various survivors and I had also read carefully the reactions sent to me by Parish Pastoral Councils and by thousands of individuals.
Pope Benedict is now working on his promised Pastoral Letter. This Letter will not be a systematic examination of events, but a pastoral reflection of the Pope, whose office in the Church is to confirm and strengthen the local Churches. The Letter will be one of many steps to be taken in the months and years to come especially within the Irish Church.
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin