Benedict to Ireland's Pedophile Priests: Submit Yourselves

In letter, pontiff apologizes to victims, blasts bishops, opens inquiry
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 20, 2010 6:44 AM CDT
Pope Benedict XVI during the weekly general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 3, 2010.   (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
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(Newser) – Pope Benedict XVI rebuked Irish bishops for "grave errors of judgment" in handling clerical sex abuse and ordered a Vatican investigation into the Irish church to wipe out the scourge. Benedict used his harshest words for the abusers themselves: "Conceal nothing," he exhorted them today in a pastoral letter to the Irish faithful. "Openly acknowledge your guilt, submit yourselves to the demands of justice, but do not despair of God's mercy."

Benedict didn't mention any Vatican responsibility and doled out no specific punishment for bishops blamed for having covered up years of abuse—three have offered to step down, but the pontiff hasn't accepted the resignations. Nor did the letter address an abuse scandal brewing in his native Germany. "It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or be reconciled with the church," Benedict wrote to the Irish victims. "In her name, I openly express the shame and remorse that we all feel."

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