Sunday, 18 April 2010

Pope Benedict XVI apologises to victims of sex abuse by clergy in Malta

Heading: Pope Benedict XVI apologises to victims of sex abuse by clergy in Malta

(Social Justice South Africa)

|Download the audio version of this article|

Article by Marc Aupiais

|Clip from South African Catholic channel on Ustream, announcing the breaking news about the pope visiting abuse victims, this short clip, is less detailed than the article and audio of our service on this matter|

Pope Benedict XVI, who largely quashed sex abuse in the Roman Catholic hierarchy when he was given the jurisdiction to do so as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, around 2001, has once again moved against paedophilia in the Roman Catholic church. He did not note the sex abuse crises to reporters on the plane travelling to Malta, rather indirectly referring to actions which had hurt the church, and separating these from the church herself. Yet, surprising some, especially our service’s own editor, Pope Benedict XVI, officially in Malta to celebrate the 1950th year since Saint Paul was shipwrecked in Malta, met with eight (8) alleged victims of sexual abuse by clergy. Four (4) priests were allegedly involved in the abuse, years ago. The victims were all over the age of thirty.

The Associated Press, referencing one of the eight (8), claimed that the Holy Father was driven to tears while meeting the alleged victims. The pope expressed what Vatican Radio termed shame and sorrow: for the abuse suffered at the hands of clergy.

The Holy Father reportedly promised the victims that the church was doing all in its power, to combat the scourge of paedophilia and to protect young people, within the church. He promised it was doing everything to bring abusers to justice. Benedict XVI was noted by Vatican Radio as listening to the stories of the alleged victims, and prayed with them for healing. He noted their suffering, and that of their families due to the alleged abuse.

The move is significant, after some media had brought allegations without adequate evidence against the pope, involving sex abuse cover-up. Notably the New York Times, and additionally the Associated Press, who claim Benedict XVI did not act on a specific case of sexual abuse, despite the issue at hand being a priest’s request to leave the priesthood, and despite this being decades before it was in Joseph Ratzinger’s jurisdiction, to deal with sexual abuse cases.

The pope notably apologized to the victims, not the media, a very papal form of diplomacy and of acting. Benedict XVI has consistently attempted to root out sexual abuse in the church, since being given some jurisdiction over the matter in 2001, and especially since becoming pope. He has apologised for the church, to Australian victims, American victims, Ireland and its victims, and now to the victims in Malta. The Maltese victims, seemed very mature about the affair, and certainly could not have been portrayed as attempting to undermine the church, given their statements, as far as our service has had access to these.

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