Pope 'Sorry' for Child Sex Abuse

Islam Online (Qatar)
July 19, 2008 Zone-English-News/NWELayout

SYDNEY — Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday, July 19, offered a historic full apology for child sex abuses by predatory priests, but drew fire from parents of the victims as not enough.

"I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured," Benedict said in a homily in Sydney, reported Reuters.

"These misdeeds, which constitute so grave a betrayal of trust, deserve unequivocal condemnation."

Benedict's comments are believed to be the first time by the pontiff to specifically apologize for sexual abuses by clergy.

In a visit to the United States in April, the pope spoke of the shame and suffering that abusive priests had brought upon the church, but stopped short of a direct apology.

In Sydney, he went further, calling for compensation for the victims of sexual abuse and bringing abuser priests to justice.

"Victims should receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice," he said.

The pontiff, who is in Australia for the Church's World Youth Day, which ends Sunday, acknowledged that the abuse had "caused great pain" to victims and damaged the church's standing.

"I would like to pause to acknowledge the shame which we have all felt as a result of the sexual abuse of minors by some clergy ... in this country.

"I ask all of you to support and assist your bishops, and to work together with them in combating this evil," he said.

Not Enough

But the victims of the Church abuse said the Pope's apology was not enough.

"Sorry is not enough," said victims' group Broken Rites.

"Victims want action, not just words."

Broken Rites says there have been 107 convictions for Church abuse in Australia, but that there could be thousands of victims as only a few cases go to court.

Victims have been calling on the pope to issue a public apology and implement an open and accountable system of investigating abuse claims.

They say the Catholic Church in Australia continues to try and cover up abuse.

"They are only words -- the same thing we've been hearing for 13 years," said Anthony Foster, whose two daughters were raped by a Melbourne priest.

"It is simply an apology, there is nothing practical there which is what we were looking for.

"A remote apology does not carry anywhere near the weight as a personal, direct apology," he said.

Bishops in the US and elsewhere were discovered to have moved clergy who had sexually abused minors from parish to parish instead of defrocking them or handing them to authorities.

In the US alone, dioceses have paid more than $2 billion to settle suits with victims, forcing some dioceses to sell off properties and declare bankruptcy.

In Australia, the Catholic Church has paid millions of dollars in compensation, but has capped individual payments to tens of thousands of dollars, with many payments undisclosed due to confidentiality settlements.

Victims say the compensation payments are inadequate.

"I hear he is deeply sorry. I do not believe that he really understands the depth of the problem," said Foster.

"He needs to meet with victims and victim support groups to understand what is required."


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