Pope apologizes for “unspeakable crimes” of sexual abuse

September 18, 2010

papal flag

(Photo: Girl waves papal flag before a Mass with Pope Benedict in London September 18, 2010/Kevin Coombs)

Pope Benedict apologized to victims of sexual abuse on Saturday, saying pedophile priests had brought “shame and humiliation” on him and the entire Roman Catholic Church. It was the 83-year-old pontiff’s latest attempt to come to grips with the scandal that has rocked the 1.1 billion-member Church, particularly in Europe and the United States.

“I think of the immense suffering caused by the abuse of children, especially within the Church and by her ministers. Above all, I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes …,” he said in his sermon in  Westminster Cathedral, the mother church for Roman Catholics in England and Wales and a symbol of the struggle of Catholics here in the late 19th century to assert their rights after the Reformation.

“I also acknowledge with you the shame and humiliation that all of us have suffered because of these sins,” he said, adding that he hoped “this chastisement” would contribute to the healing of the victims and the purification of the Church.

He has apologized before for sexual abuse by priests — such as in the letter to the Catholics of Ireland last March — and has acknowledged that the Church was slow to deal with the problem. But his comments on Saturday were among his most succinct to date.

The full quote from his sermon was: “Here too I think of the immense suffering caused by the abuse of children, especially within the Church and by her ministers. Above all, I express my deep sorrow to the innocent victims of these unspeakable crimes, along with my hope that the power of Christ’s grace, his sacrifice of reconciliation, will bring deep healing and peace to their lives. I also acknowledge, with you, the shame and humiliation which all of us have suffered because of these sins; and I invite you to offer it to the Lord with trust that this chastisement will contribute to the healing of the victims, the purification of the Church and the renewal of her age-old commitment to the education and care of young people. I express my gratitude for the efforts being made to address this problem responsibly, and I ask all of you to show your concern for the victims and solidarity with your priests.”

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5 comments

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Pope calls Pedophile Priest Crimes Unspeakable, but he is the one not speaking. The Pope is the one who worked to get victims not to speak through gag orders in early settlements. The Pope is the one overseeing pension payments to retired pedophile priests like Oliver O’Grady, assuring the priests don’t speak. The Pope is the one orchestrating the battle to keep Church documents from being released to Courts, law enforcement, and the news media, so yes, to him pedophile priest crimes are “unspeakable.”
Read more at at City of Angels Blog http://cityofangels8.blogspot.com written by a survivor of these crimes who is also a journalist

Posted by KayEbeling | Report as abusive

The popes apologies have not brought support to myself or to any other survivor I know. In fact each of us only feels deceived and used once again.

The staggering part is that so many Catholics feel that is all that is necessary to say so that they can continue on in this socially destructive manner – ooops we are sorry, let us tell you how to live your life!

The following gives a present day view and understanding of the experience of survivors of clergy abuse and the continuing cover up. http://www.molestedcatholics.com/Not-in- my-lifetime

Be shocked by the global estimates of the numbers of those sexually abused by Catholic clergy. http://www.molestedcatholics.com/Estimat ing-the-numbers-global.php#stats

Posted by JohnBS1 | Report as abusive

Clerical immorality was one of the causes of the Reformation, it is nothing new. Apologies will not get rid of it. But other apologies are overdue. In Britain, the Pope condemned today’s atheists likening them to the Nazi’s in WW2. But that is not what the Catholic Church was saying in Nazi Germany. There are abundant photo’s available of Nazi involvement with the Catholic Church and Catholic Franz von Papen, the second in command to Hitler, put the essence of the Hitler-Vatican alliance very succinctly in these words: “The Third Reich,” he said, “is the first power which not only recognizes, but puts into practice, the high principles of the Papacy.”
Two important apologies must be given;
Apology One. An apology for signing a concordat with Hitler is in order. The concordat was conducted in secret before Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. For widespread MATERIAL concessions for the Catholic Church in Germany, the Holy See guaranteed that German Catholics would refrain from all partisan political activity. This involved the disbandment, by papal directive, of the German Centre [Catholic] Party. “Within days of the Concordat, Hitler began his round-up of the Jews.
Apology Two. In July, 1997, a documentary film crew discovered a US government document stating that the pro-Nazi Croatian Ustachis sent gold coins worth 250 million Swiss francs to the Vatican which was later used to finance the “rat line” of fleeing Nazi leaders to sanctuary in Spain and Argentina. The Church of Rome needs to explain why it facilitated the escape of SS Nazis to South America in view of its claimed support for the Jews, and give profuse apologies to God, the Jews, the British, the Americans and everyone who fought against the Nazis.
Jesus says, “You will know them by their fruits.”

Posted by neilcadman | Report as abusive

The latest apology by the Pope fell more than a little short by most estimates. Groups dealing with clergy abuse have almost unanimously expressed their disappointment with the latest papal remarks. It is a start, but not what people are looking for. So what is it that people need?

Clergy sexual abuse is unique in one key aspect. Most child sexual abuse ultimately destroys a trusted relationship. Clergy abuse falls into this category as well, but there are actually two relationships that are damaged. The first is the relationship with the abuser, and second is the relationship with the church.

Apologies are nice, but even good apologies in this case really don’t solve the problem. Most victims aren’t really looking for apology. They are looking for validation of what happened to them, assurances that this will never happen again, and they would like to repair the relationships that can be repaired.

This is where the Catholic Church has dropped the ball. The strategy in the past has been one of containment. It has cost them the trust of their members, and millions in legal fees. What they need is transparency, because this is the basis of reestablishing trust. And here is the hope for clergy abuse victims. The trust with their abuser may have been destroyed, but the church can build a safe environment where past victims can trust again. This is more than apology. It’s what victims are looking for.

http://www.victimcoaching.com provides additional suggestions for dealing with sexual abuse.

Posted by longleyr | Report as abusive

As a victim of sexual abuse by clergy myself, I can say that the hollow apologies by the Pope do absolutely nothing toward correcting the problem, protecting children, or for healing wounds. I wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger when I was involved in a lawsuit against the church in San Francisco in 2005,and asked him to remove the predator who molested me from a Catholic grammar school. Ratzinger left the priest who molested me in ministry with access to children clear up to the day of the jury guilty verdict I won against the priest in court.
Actions speak louder than words, and cleverly written apologies are nothing but validation that the Pope can read and write. If the Pope truly wanted to correct the atrocities and violations committed by the abusers in his
syndicate, he would remove all of the clerical abusers, and all of the bishops and cardinals who protected, promoted, shuffled, and harbored them.
But this has not happened, and never will. The clever hierarchy of the church will continue the hollow apology strategy for as long as there are those who still tolerate it.

Posted by JoeyAdvocate1 | Report as abusive

[…] the papacy to show a smidgen of contrition and to seek repentance [huh? 1, 2, 3, 4, and more...but i know its not good enough because everything he says is a lie...]. […]

[…] the papacy to show a smidgen of contrition and to seek repentance [huh? 1, 2, 3, 4, and more...but i know its not good enough because everything he says is a lie...]. […]