Pope 'shares outrage and shame' at Murphy report

Pope Benedict shares the "outrage, betrayal and shame" felt by the Irish people over the Murphy report into the handling of allegations…

Pope Benedict shares the "outrage, betrayal and shame" felt by the Irish people over the Murphy report into the handling of allegations of child sex abuse in the Dublin archdiocese, the Vatican has said.

In a statement issued after the Pope held a meeting with Cardinal Seán Brady and Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, the Vatican also said the Pope was "disturbed and distressed" by the contents of the report published last month.

He will write a pastoral letter to the Irish people about sexual abuse in Ireland and the Vatican's response to the crisis.

The Pope held a 90-minute meeting with the two church leaders this morning to discuss the “painful situation of the church in Ireland” in the wake of the publication of the Murphy commission report.

"The Holy Father shares the outrage, betrayal and shame felt by so many of the faithful in Ireland, and he is united with them in prayer at this difficult time in the life of the church," the statement said.

"The Holy Father was deeply disturbed and distressed by its contents. He wishes once more to express his profound regret at the actions of some members of the clergy who have betrayed their solemn promises to God, as well as the trust placed in them by the victims and their families, and by society at large."

The statement said the Pope was asking for prayers for the victims of "these heinous crimes" and promised that the Vatican would "develop effective and secure strategies to prevent any recurrence".

It said the Pope and the Vatican took the issues raised by the report "very seriously" including "questions concerning the governance of local Church leaders with ultimate responsibility for the pastoral care of children".

Pope Benedict was accompanied by a delegation of Curia heavyweights including, among others, the secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the prefect for the Congregation of Bishops, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the prefect for the Congregation For the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal William Levada, the prefect for the Congregation of the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes and the prefect of the Congregation of Consecrated Life (Religious Orders) Franc Rodé.

When John Paul II met the US bishops in the Vatican to discuss the US clerical sex abuse crisis in April 2002, he issued a strong statement in which he said, “people need to know that there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young”.

The crisis over clerical sexual abuse in Ireland will likely result in a major shake-up of the Catholic Church, Archbishop Martin said after the talks with Pope Benedict.

"I think that we are looking at a very significant reorganisation of the Church in Ireland," he said.

Additional reporting: Reuters