CAFOD RAISES ALMOST £5 MILLION FOR HAITI CATHOLICS IN ENGLAND AND WALES SUPPORT EARTHQUAKE VICTIMS PAGE 2
Pope tells Irish abuse victims: ‘I am truly sorry’
March 26 2010 £1.20 (Republic of Ireland €1.70)
Pontiff announces year of penitential reparation in unprecedented pastoral letter
BY JOHN THAVIS IN ROME AND SIMON CALDWELL IN LONDON
IN A LETTER to Irish Catholics Pope Benedict XVI has personally apologised to victims of priestly sexual abuse and announced new steps to heal the wounds of the scandal, including a Vatican investigation and a year of penitential reparation.
He told victims: “You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry. I know that nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated.”
The Pope told priest abusers that they would answer to God for their sins. He said bishops had made serious mistakes in responding to allegations of sexual abuse and he encouraged them to implement new Church norms against abuse and cooperate with civil authorities in such cases.
“Only decisive action carried out with complete honesty and transparency will restore the respect and good will of the Irish people toward the Church,” he said.
On Wednesday, four days after the letter was issued, the Pontiff accepted the resignation of Bishop John Magee of Cloyne, personal secretary to three popes, who stepped down in the wake of criticism of his handling of abuse cases.
The 4,600-word letter, distributed at Masses across Ireland last weekend, came in response to the disclosure last autumn that Irish Church leaders had often protected abusive priests over the last 35 years. Similar allegations have since come to light in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland.
Pope Benedict, who met Irish bishops to discuss the problem in February, began his letter by saying he shared the sense of betrayal Irish Catholics felt when they learned of these “sinful and criminal acts” and the “often inadequate response” by Church authorities in Ireland.
He said he was convinced that the Church, having adopted strict new measures against sexual abuse, was now on the right path. But the healing process for Irish Catholics will take time and requires a deeper spiritual renewal, he said. “No one imagines that this painful situation will be resolved swiftly,” he wrote.
To the victims of abuse and their families the Pope offered sympathy and understanding. He noted that many victims found that, when they had the courage to denounce the abuse, “no one would listen”.
Those abused in Catholic residential institutions must have felt that there was no escape from their sufferings, he said. “It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the Church. In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel. At the same time, I ask you not to lose hope,” the Pope said.
Addressing priests and religious who have abused, he said: “You betrayed the trust that was placed in you by innocent young people and their parents, and you must answer for it before almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals.”
Priest abusers, he said, have “violated the sanctity of the sacrament of Holy Orders in which Christ makes himself present in us and in our actions”. He said those who have abused should openly acknowledge their guilt, try to atone personally for what they have done and “do not despair of God’s mercy”.
The Pope urged bishops to fully implement the Church’s new policies against abuse and to “continue to cooperate with the civil authorities in their area of competence”.
“It cannot be denied that some of you and your predecessors failed, at times grievously, to apply the longestablished norms of canon law to the crime of child abuse. Serious mistakes were made in responding to allegations,” he said.
The Pope said he had ordered an Apostolic Visitation, or internal Church inquiry, into certain dioceses in Ireland, as well as seminaries and religious congregations. He said details would be announced later.
He identified several contributing factors to clerical sex abuse, among them a “misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church” that led to a failure to apply existing penalties against abuse. He also pointed to inadequate selection of priesthood candidates, poor formation programmes and a tendency in society to favour the clergy and other authority figures.
At the same time, he said, priestly sexual abuse was linked to more general developments, including the secularisation of Irish society and of Irish clergy and religious themselves, and a misinterpretation of the Second Vatican Council.
He announced “concrete initiatives” to help Irish bishops repair the damage in the Church including a year of penitential and devotional practices such as acts of prayerful reparation before the Eucharist.
He also announced a nationwide “mission” to be held for all bishops, priests and religious to promote a better understanding of their vocations by drawing on the expertise of preachers and retreat-givers.
Addressing young people, he urged them not to give up on the Church. “We are all scandalised by the sins and failures of some of the Church’s members,” he said.
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Full text: Pages 5-6 Editorial comment: Page 13
Pope Benedict XVI has set out a range of measures to address the ‘sinful and criminal acts’ of clergy in Ireland
Kwik Save tycoon plans to leave half of his fortune to the Church
BY ED WEST
KWIK SAVE owner Albert Gubay has promised to give away half his estimated £500 million to Catholic charities when he dies.
The 82-year-old has already put £480 million in a charitable trust, leaving him just £10 million to get by, but he announced last week that he has even grander ambitions for his charitable work. “I want to carry on supporting good causes, but my whole focus in the next few years is to work as hard as I can to meet my target of a £1 billion charity,” he said. “Every penny wasted or lost reduces the pot available to the charity.”
Born in North Wales to a Jewish Iraqi father and Irish Catholic mother, Mr Gubay sold sweets as a youngster before launching the first Kwik Save store in Prestatyn, Denbighshire, in 1965.
He later sold the supermarket chain for £14m and invested in property, as well as buying the Total Fitness gym network.
In 1997 he told a television documentary about the pledge he made as a young man, which he intends to keep.
“After the war I came out of the Royal Navy with a demob suit and £80. I borrowed £100 and made the pact with God: make me a millionaire – and you can have half of my money.”
He added: “My belief in a day of reckoning keeps me on the straight and narrow.”
Half the income from the Albert Gubay Charitable Foundation, which is run by Mr Gubay’s second wife, Carmel, must be spent on projects connected with the Catholic Church, with the rest distributed at the discretion of the trustees.
Mr Gubay is not the first Catholic multi-millionaire to give away his fortune. Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan intends to donate to charity his entire £660m fortune before he dies.
It’s official: Vatican finally joins Twitter
Director in talks over Sistine Chapel film
BY ANNA ARCO
THE VATICAN has joined the social networking site Twitter.
People hoping to get news from Vatican Radio can do so via Twitter by following @news_va_en for its English-language version.
Twitter users post messages of 140 characters length, often including links to other websites and blogs.
The Vatican launched six Twitter streams last Saturday in English, French, Italian, Spanish and German. The Vatican already has four YouTube channels.
Earlier this year the Catholic News Service discovered that a person on Twitter claiming to be writing messages for the Vatican was not authorised by the Holy See press office.
The account, which had been posting messages from Vatican Radio, was disabled but the identity of the mystery user was never discovered.
BY ANNA ARCO
BRITISH director Peter Greenaway is in talks with the Vatican about making a film on the Sistine Chapel.
Mr Greenaway, who has made films about Da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper and Veronese’s The Wedding at Cana, said he was discussing the possibility of making a film about the Last Judgment. The fresco, which covers the wall of the Sistine Chapel, is Michelangelo’s masterpiece.
Last year Pope Benedict XVI addressed artists from around the world – including Mr
Greenaway – in the Sistine Chapel. The
Pope called them “custodians of beauty” who had the “opportunity to speak to the heart of humanity”.
MEET THE DIRECTOR OF THE FILM ‘LOURDES’ PAGE 7