While we digest the Pastoral letter to the Irish Church, consider this. The letter is quite specifically addressed only to the Irish Church, and this is the justification offered for remaining silent on the problems elsewhere. But that begs the question how and when will he respond to the problems elsewhere? In just the past few weeks, new storm clouds have started to blow over Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Brazil and Chile, as well as the already well known stories from the USA, Mexico and elsewhere. Other countries have not been spared the abuse - just the publicity.
In case anyone thinks that these other problems are not significant in scale, I offer the news report below, which might otherwise be lost in the flood of reporting over the Irish: the Dutch Church is now dealing with 1100 allegations of abuse by Catholic clergy. This is very much a global, not a local, problem. Yet the most notable practical step taken by Benedict to correct the failings, is a visitation of the Irish Church. Leaving aside the uncomfortable suspicion that this smacks of the old parliamentary trick of shunting difficulties into subcommittees, or commissions of inquiry where they can languish before being forgotten, does this precedent mean that we will see similar visitations in every other country where sexual abuse has been a problem? The process would never end.
It would be far more constructive if he could begin instead far closer to home - with a visitation of the Vatican.From Sydney Morning Herald
Church flooded with sex abuse claims
March 21, 2010 - 5:54AMAFPAt least 1,100 allegations of sexual abuse committed by members of the Dutch Roman Catholic clergy in the three decades from 1950 have emerged this month, a church official says."According to latest figures, there have been 1,100 accounts," Pieter Kohnen, a spokesman for the Dutch Catholic church, said on Saturday.The reports have been logged by a commission set up in 1995 by the church to help victims of sexual abuse by the clergy, he added.Dutch religious leaders on March 9 ordered a "broad, external and independent" investigation of alleged sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests, and apologised to victims.The announcement was made by the Dutch Religious Conference after a meeting to discuss abuse claims by about 200 alleged victims dating from the 1960s and 1970s.On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI apologised in a letter for child sex abuse by Irish priests and spoke of the "shame and remorse" he felt over the scandals.Similar scandals have also emerged in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.