Bishop John Buckley’s statement following the meeting between Pope Benedict and the Irish Bishops

23 Feb 2010

23 February 2010

Press Release issued by Bishop John Buckley, Bishop of Cork and Ross on Ash Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Irish bishops met with Pope Benedict and Cardinals of the Roman Curia during the past two days  and, together, they examined the failure of church authorities in Ireland to act effectively in dealing with abuse of young people by some Irish priests and religious.

They recognised that this has led to a lack of trust in Church leadership and has damaged her witness to the Gospel.  The meeting took place in a spirit of prayer and there was a frank and honest exchange of views.

The bishops offered their own observations and suggestions and spoke frankly of their sense of pain as well as the anger, betrayal, scandal and shame expressed to them by those who have been abused.

They described the great work that is at present being provided by trained and dedicated lay volunteers at parish level to ensure the safety of children and to guarantee that the church’s policies and procedures are followed.

The pope described the abuse of children as a heinous crime and as a grave sin, which offends the dignity of the human person and he urged the bishops to address the problems of the past with determination, honesty and courage.  The bishops assured the Pope that, insofar as is humanly possible, the mistakes of the past will never happen again.

The pope remained with the bishops on Monday from 9.30am to 7pm and again on Tuesday morning.  He said that he approached the meeting with a great sense of responsibility before the Lord and all the people of Ireland.  He listened attentively throughout the meeting.  The bishops also informed the pope that the whole parish community will have shared responsibility for the safeguarding of children.

Bishop Buckley told the Pope that the current situation was our ‘dark night of the soul’, that great suffering was experienced by young people in Ireland and was compounded by inadequate responses.  He told him that the Irish people were sad at what had happened and were shamed.  Bishop Buckley added that our suffering bore no comparison to the hurt and distress of the victims.  It was our hope, he said, that the crimes of a small number would not invalidate the hard work of many priests and religious.  Bishop Buckley also assured Pope Benedict that great efforts were being made to make the church a safe place for children.  We are learning from mistakes and are looking forward in hope and ensuring that mismanagement will never happen again.

Further information:
Rev Dr Tom Deenihan
Diocesan Secretary
Diocese of Cork & Ross
Redemption Road
Tel 021.4301717
[email protected]