Pope deplores 'acts of infidelity' by priests


THE POPE has deplored acts of infidelity by priests and has called for “a frank and complete acknowledgment” of the Catholic Church’s weakness.

In what is being interpreted as an indirect response to the Ryan report, as well as to clerical sex abuse generally, he said yesterday that there had been “situations which can never be sufficiently deplored where the church herself suffers as a consequence of infidelity on the part of some of her ministers”.

He continued: “Then it is the world which finds grounds for scandal and rejection.”

Pope Benedict XIV made his observations in a letter to all Catholic priests, marking a beginning to the Vatican’s “Year of the Priest”.

“What is most helpful to the church in such cases is not only a frank and complete acknowledgment of the weaknesses of her ministers, but also a joyful and renewed realisation of the greatness of God’s gift,” he said.

He also said while such scandals were to be deplored, there was reason to rejoice because the Roman Catholic Church had so many generous and good pastors at work every day.

In the past, the pope has apologised to victims for their anguish and prayed for their healing while denouncing what he has termed the “filth” in the priesthood that permitted such abuse.

However one US victims’ group said yesterday that his words of sorrow “ring hollow”.

David Clohessy, director of the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests, said: “It’s tiresome again to see verbal Vatican posturing about clergy sex crimes devoid of any action whatsoever or any admission that the real issue remains: callous bishops who continue to recklessly and deceptively transfer sexually troubled priests to unsuspecting parishes.”

Both the Catholic primate Cardinal Seán Brady and the Archbishop of Dublin Dr Diarmuid Martin spent much of the week before last discussing the Ryan report with seven of the nine cardinal heads of Vatican congregations.

Two weeks ago today, on Friday June 5th, they met the pope for a 45-minute audience at which the report was discussed.

“He listened very carefully, he was obviously very distressed about what we had to tell him . . . he listened very sympathetically and attentively,” said Cardinal Brady.

“He didn’t read the entire thing, but he was aware of it and very distressed by it,” said Archbishop Martin, after the audience.