In the first speech that Pope Francis has delivered during his ongoing two-day trip to Ireland, the Vatican sovereign has claimed that he is pained and shamed over the abuse of children by Catholic priests around the world.
Ireland is among the countries that have been rocked by several clerical sex abuse scandals provoking widespread outrage and condemnation.
The pope’s equivocal response, however, has drawn the ire of critics who have been demanding for long that the pontiff acknowledge the Vatican’s responsibility for the scandals and also spell out specific steps it plans to initiate to combat rampant clerical sex abuse in the Church.
Attempting to do some damage control in wake of global condemnation that the Vatican has been facing over abuse scandals, Francis referred to the measures taken by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, to respond to the crisis. But Benedict himself had refused steadfastly to acknowledged the Vatican’s role in fueling a culture of cover-up. Francis also provided no new details of any measures he would take to sanction bishops who fail to protect children.
The Pope, in his speech, acknowledges the “failure of ecclesiastical authorities—bishops, religious superiors, priests and others—adequately to address these repugnant crimes has rightly given rise to outrage”.
The Catholic Church has been reeling under a series of clerical sex abuse scandals including recent revelations of abuse and cover-up in the US church hierarchy, a scandal in Chile and criminal prosecution of Vatican’s top clerics in Australia.
Pennsylvania report, one of the most exhaustive investigations into the church’s sex-abuse scandals, has documented that more than 300 Roman Catholic priests abused over1,000 victims over a period of 70 years and later systematically covered it up.