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Pope to Irish bishops,'heinous crime'

Irish Church must act swiftly to stem crisis, Benedict says

16 February, 14:18
Pope to Irish bishops,'heinous crime' (ANSA) - Vatican City, February 16 - Sex abuse of children by priests is a ''heinous crime'' that requires resolute action, Pope Benedict XVI told Irish bishops during two days of crisis talks in the Vatican Tuesday.

The pope urged the bishops to act ''swiftly, with determination, honesty and courage'' to resolve the ''painful situation'' caused by revelations of hundreds of sex abuse cases covered up over decades, the Vatican said.

He called on the Irish Church, once one of the most domestically influential in Europe, to ''renew its faith and rediscover its spiritual and moral credibility''.

Benedict will issue a keenly awaited pastoral letter to Irish Catholics during Lent, it said. The Irish Church is ''committed to cooperating with civil authorities'' to shed full light on the scandal, a Vatican statement said.

The pope met the 24 bishops to discuss the Murphy report, which in November found that four bishops failed to report some 300 cases of child sex abuse to the police from the 1960s to the 1980s.

All four have since tendered their resignations, one of which has been accepted.

No further resignations are expected this week.

Earlier, in May, the Ryan report into the abuse of children in Catholic-run industrial schools and orphanages denounced cover-ups over some 50 years.

The pope met top Irish bishop Sean Brady on December 11 and said the leaders of the Irish church, ''(bore) the ultimate responsibility for the pastoral care of children''.

He said he was ''shocked and anguished'' and vowed ''to find the best way to develop effective and sure strategies to prevent (such events) from recurring''.

In the wake of the Murphy report, the head of the Irish Survivors of Child Abuse group urged Benedict to go to Ireland and apologise for his clergy's behaviour.

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