Papal legate meets abuse victims

 

Papal legate Cardinal Marc Ouellet has asked for forgiveness from victims of clerical child abuse during his visit to Co Donegal.

The papal legate, who is representing Pope Benedict XVI at this week's International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, met victims of abuse yesterday while on a pilgrimage to Lough Derg.

The meeting lasted two hours, during which survivors spoke of his or her own personal experience of abuse and its impact on their lives.

After the meeting, the former archbishop of Quebec celebrated Mass in St Patrick’s Basilica on the island with about 100 pilgrims.

“I come here with the specific intention of seeking forgiveness, from God and from the Victims, for the grave sin of sexual abuse of children by clerics," he said during his homily.

"We have learned over the last decades how much harm and despair such abuse caused to thousands of victims. We learned too that the response of some Church authorities to these crimes was often inadequate and inefficient in stopping the crimes, in spite of clear indications in the code of canon law."

The cardinal apologised to the victims of abuse and asked for forgiveness from them.

“The tragedy of the sexual abuse of minors perpetrated by Christians, especially when done so by members of the clergy, is a source of great shame and enormous scandal," he said.

“From the context of this International Eucharistic Congress, I reaffirm the commitment of the Catholic Church to create a safe environment for children and we pray that a new culture of respect, integrity and Christ like love would prevail in our midst and permeate the whole society."

The Papal Legate and his delegation, including the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Charles Brown, along with the Bishop of Clogher, Dr Liam MacDaid, stayed overnight on the island during which time they fasted and participated in other penitential exercises with the pilgrims on the island.

Speaking at the Vatican this morning, Pope Benedict said the congress was "an important opportunity to reaffirm the central place of the Eucharist in the life of the Church".

The International Eucharistic Congress ends on Sunday.

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