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Pope to sign sex-abuse letter

Missive will be sent 'soon', Benedict tells Irish faithful

17 March, 12:05
Pope to sign sex-abuse letter (ANSA) - Vatican City, March 17 - Pope Benedict XVI is to sign a letter to the Irish faithful Friday about recent child sex abuse scandals that have rocked the Church in Ireland, the pope announced at his general audience Wednesday.

Greeting Irish well-wishers on St Patrick's Day, the pope said in English: "As you know, in the last few months the Church in Ireland has been strongly rocked by the crisis of abuse of minors".

"As a sign of my profound concern I have written a pastoral letter that deals with this painful situation. I will sign it on St Joseph's Day, the guardian of the Holy family and patron of the universal Church, and I will send it soon".

"I ask you to read it yourselves with an open heart and a spirit of faith. My hope is that it will help in the process of repentance, healing and renewal".

Several Irish bishops have resigned after two reports detailed decades of abuse and cover-ups in schools and the Dublin diocese.

The child-abuse scandal, which first erupted in the US in the late 1990s, has since spread to Europe with Austria, the Netherlands and the pope's native Germany being the latest countries involved.

Benedict, who as doctrinal watchdog in 2001 laid down guidelines to keep initial probes in-house, has pledged new strategies to root out this "hateful crime". The German scandal came near Benedict himself last week when it emerged that a priestly abuser had been reassigned to Church work when the pope was archbishop of Bavaria.

But the pope's then No.2 in Munich took the blame.

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