On air: Has the Pope’s apology gone far enough?

The Pope has apologised to victims of sex abuse in Ireland. He acknowledges ‘serious mistakes’ were made in how allegations were handled.  Thousands are commenting on the apology, and many are asking if it went far enough. Some feel that the ‘cover-up’ aspect hasn’t been fully owned up to.

Jim Gerwing asks: ‘Who made the errors? What did they actually do? A true apology admits fully and precisely who did what to whom, and then makes concrete plans to restore justice’.

But people have also come to the Pope’s defence. Ttony says ‘Knock the Irish Hierarchy as much as you like, but don’t blame this Pope for everything.’ Borisz in Hungary says ‘Being a religious leader, the pope could not do more than he expressed in his statement.’

It’s not the first time the Pope’s apologised for abuse or been criticised for it. Writing in Toronto Mark Bonokoski says last year’s apology to aboriginal Canadians for past abuse suffered in Catholic schools, years after other Christian denominations said sorry, came too late.

Last week we asked if the Pope should resign. Does his apology change your views? Mary Raftery, who exposed systemic abuse in the Irish church over 10 years ago said “it’s going to be impossible for people to establish the same relationship of trust with the Catholic Church. I think it has vanished.”

Does the Pope’s apology go far enough? Have you lost trust in the Church? Has it lost its moral authority as a result of the way sex abuse scandals have been handled?

87 Responses to “On air: Has the Pope’s apology gone far enough?”

  1. 1 alan loughlin
    March 23, 2010 at 10:44

    no, no, no, what value does an apology have when he and his cohorts continue to cover up wrongdoings, and continue bribing witnesses and victims for silence, thet are just words and very cheap. we need action, like full diclosure of facts, not secret files, and secret systems to hide the facts, they are on the run now, all is imploding around them, even the misguided faithful are realising the truth and want to disassociate themselves, hence the massive drop in congregations, only the stubborn misguided followers stay believing it is all a made up story.when i hear it said by these peole that the children are to blame, and they made it up, it makes me mad, all those responsible for the abuse, and the ones including ratzinger who have worked to cover it all up are all equally guilty ang need to be brought to justice, i say to him, hand yourself over to justice, that is better than cheap words.

    • March 23, 2010 at 17:16

      Alan, As passionate as you are about this situation, i must say that some things you have asserted are not factual. Per the low congregation numbers, one cannot connect the abuse scandal to it. The church as an institution has been losing members before this debacle. Per the abuse, I am ashamed of it and personally embarrassed that some priest affiliated with the clergy committed such gruesome acts against boys and girls. I am not proud of admitting this, but an apology from myself and the many other Catholics, including the Pope, Should be accepted. Mind you, at the same time, we must not forget that these men must pay for their wrong doings and as Christians “the wage of sin is death”. Justice will be served in this life and the after life.

      • 3 Myra
        March 23, 2010 at 18:57

        Leonet Reid,

        As long as one lives and breathes we all die, sinners or not. Death is not selective like that, it comes to us all regardless.

  2. 4 mat hendriks
    March 23, 2010 at 11:22

    -The apology has gone far enough.-

    Even more important is, that he garantee us, that child-abuse in
    the Roman Curch will be minimism.
    All suggestions in relation with celibacy should be taken seriously.
    Child abuse is such a great evil- in an outside- the Roman Church, that
    every possible reason should taken away.
    Even such “holy”matter as celibacy.

    The pope has a lot of work to do, work that should be done a long time

  3. March 23, 2010 at 12:31

    The Pope has gone far enough to seal his and the Catholic churches demise. Obviously the pedophilia is endemic in the Church. I’d say that was check-mate in any game of chess. The Catholic church is guilty of hijacking the souls of children, so they may not flourish as normal adults. Herod killed all the babies for the same reason.

  4. 6 audre
    March 23, 2010 at 12:41

    The pope can probably do no more in the situation in which he finds himself. The church needs restructuring.

  5. 7 patti in cape coral
    March 23, 2010 at 13:06

    Apologies are a good start, but not enough. There needs to be full disclosure and the Vatican needs to obey the laws of the land, meaning, there needs to be prosecution of those guilty of sexual/physical abuse.

  6. 8 Linda from Italy
    March 23, 2010 at 13:06

    The trouble with dictatorships is that the buck stops, or rather should stop, with the dictator.
    The child abuse was bad enough but this was further compounded by all the cover-ups, not just in Ireland.
    The euphemism “serious mistakes” is the gravest error of all, the Catholic Church is run by the Vatican, so the man at the top must assume responsibility, even for offences committed before this particular priest became so powerful, and he was in a position of power for many years before becoming Pope.
    This is little different from the Church refusing to acknowledge any guilt over getting into bed (metaphorically) with Mussolini with the Lateran Pacts (1929), allowing Fascism to thrive and paving the way for Franco and Hitler, something done by Pope Pius XI, followed by the disgraceful conduct of his successor Pius XII, turning a blind eye to the extermination camps.
    While the Church hierarchy insists on trying to run the lives of the faithful, even dictating they can’t limit their families, they seem to think their conduct is above any law, religious or secular, not the best foundation for moral authority I think.

  7. 9 Peter Calabar
    March 23, 2010 at 13:09

    At least here is a faith where faults – no matter how painful – are admitted and publicly recanted with apologies.

    Learn therefrom oh ye who believe that suicide-bombing and fatwa-ing and killing non-believers is the best way to your paradise!

    • 10 Joane in Cleveland
      March 23, 2010 at 19:03

      excuse me and how long did it take to apmit them? How many centuries? Are you kidding me? Wars. Fatwas. How about the crusades? Same thing, no different. I am a christian. A protestant but with my eyes open. I do not now, nor ever will think chiristianity is perfect. I see the beams in our eyes. I know how fragile our glass houses are. Yet, I believe in the tenets of my religion and have no problem with condemning it’s imperfections because we need to get our houses in order first.

    • 11 Adam
      March 23, 2010 at 21:09

      i cannot see how this is relevant! but i guarantee you,as a muslim,that’s a faulty conception! now back to the subject, im not really sure how advantageous an apology is to this problem! but what’s important is that the those who’ve been abused, are being taken care of! the emotional distress they are going through,im sure, is indescribable, hence you need people to surround them who can restore their faith and trust in others

    • 12 mark
      March 24, 2010 at 09:25

      they only said sorry because they got caught ..

      they hid it for years moving pedophiles to different areas so they could abuse more children

      like governments they are only interested in keeping power and control and making money

      its all facade its still going on

      they dont care its just PR

  8. 13 Subhash C Mehta
    March 23, 2010 at 13:44

    Apology is the minimum the Pope could make; but that is not enough. What penal action is proposed against the accused and the suspected? What assurance is offered against any future abuse?

  9. 14 Cabe UK
    March 23, 2010 at 13:47

    No it hasn’t ! …
    He should eject all those associated with the abuse including all those who knew about it. Only then wll it be a START to appeasement…

    • 15 alan loughlin
      March 23, 2010 at 14:28

      i agree, but to eject all the guilty he would have to start with himself, there would not be many left, perhaps a good thing.

  10. March 23, 2010 at 13:53

    The very least one would expect from the Pope is a clearly out lined strategy of how, what and he intends to do to put a stop to this revolting record of sexual crimes. This is if he is going to stay in office.

    As a non religious person, all religions are patriarchal misogynies IMO and so I’m baffled as to why there is Pope at all and why anyone, in particular a woman would adhere to any of these religions diktats.

  11. 17 tuiweni
    March 23, 2010 at 14:04

    i support those not attending mass to show their disappointment in the faiures of the people of the church to protect children. it truly saddens me. an apology is just words if nothing is done to prevent reoccurrence.

    i fear this won’t be the last pope to apologise for widescale worldwide crimes against children in the chuch. it almost feels like they don’t really care and they’re hoping it will blow over with time.

  12. 18 Eric in France
    March 23, 2010 at 14:05

    It is always interesting to see how leadership is able to drop responsibilities when they are pointed at.

    Forced to the corner, the head of state and head of the religion is playing the blame game to limit damages (i.e. moral and financial if still possible) in saying: we were not too good here in the Vatican state, but if a bit responsible, we are definitely not accountable. It remind me Abu Graib scandal where the issue could only be the behaviour of one person or two on the ground, but not from the hierarchy because of their saying and suggesting. Here it sounds like “Oh good lord, if we knew, we would have done something”. Should I then understand that God is not talking to the religion hierarchy?

    On the other hand, we easily criticized the politicians because even if not responsible, the local ones are often accountable for their bosses as they are the ones to be re-elected. Maybe they are the ones with the real moral ground rather than those whom motto seems: “Do what I say, not what I do”.

    On the matter of celibacy, how could that branch of the religion change it? It seems technically rather difficult. Doing so means that there is even less difference with protestants that they persecuted for centuries? Doing so means that, if the prophet was single, it had nothing to do with god. Going into that path would be to ask what then is “true” with the whole believing system. And indeed, the next step if they end the celibacy and allow priests to marry is to rethink the role of the woman.

    What is for sure is that the roman catholic church has definitely lost its moral value from those who were not the fanatic followers of the faith.

  13. 19 nora
    March 23, 2010 at 14:45

    No it is not enough. Turning himself over to the German civil authorities to answer any questions would be nice.

    Read his whole letter – he blames Vatican II ! He blames modernity and secularization.

    Tell that to Boccaccio who wrote one of the funniest 14th century stories in Il Decamerone. It is about priests, sex and the hierarchy cover-up.

    Benedict [AKA Ratzinger], is a micro-manager who has done his best to be shocked that there is gambling at Rick’s. His pretense at ignorance won’t fly. My money is on a fat paper trail emerging that documents his part in moving pedophiles around like pawns on a chess board. And that is even after they have run the shredder for a decade.

  14. 20 Jeanann
    March 23, 2010 at 15:03

    How can a few words written on a piece of paper ever atone for the atrocities committed by the Roman Catholic priests….worldwide, not only in Ireland.
    The abused children were scarred for life….nothing makes that any better.
    Sackings and demotions would help…but would not be the total answer…there just isn’t one.

  15. 21 Robyn Carter, Lexington, KY
    March 23, 2010 at 15:05

    I am not Catholic, but I have lost faith in the Catholic church for many reasons. When I recite The Apostles’ Creed I won’t say I believe in the holy catholic church. Maybe its time for some changes in the Vatican.

  16. 22 Gary Paudler
    March 23, 2010 at 15:21

    It will be enough when the Catholic church refers all cases of alleged criminal wrongdoing to the appropriate civil authorities and cooperates fully with their investigations, as would be demanded of any other institution. Until the Pope does that, and nothing less, he will remain engaged in an (allegedly) criminal conspiracy for the church’s role in covering-up and abetting crimes. For how many more decades will we hear of reluctant half-measures by the church in response to a chronic problem?

  17. 23 nora
    March 23, 2010 at 15:22

    The Pope did not truly recognize civil authority nor commit himself to full cooperation with civil authorities. While he continues to bash the left via Vatican II, he has not said word one that indicates spiritual reflection on the authoritarian culture he and his brother were part of. Slapping choir boys faces was accepted, molesting choir boys was accepted. Covering up for the good of church is so reflexive in him that he just can’t stop.

  18. 24 Ronald
    March 23, 2010 at 15:37

    The Pope should have made a declaration that in future, the police would be called in to investigate any priests accused of pedophilia. This would show that he was sincere and that he understood that the Church was not and is not above the law.

    One could offer solace, “forgivenss in Christ” (or whatever the theologically correct term is), but the law is the law and the Church should not protect members of the clergy from the law.

  19. March 23, 2010 at 15:45

    Hi WHYSers!
    Again, I am dismayed and hurt by this story, in part, because I accept in faith that as the leader of the Roman Catholics worlwide, the Pope is descended from Peter, albeit spiritually. This brings with it very awesome responsibilities which should never be taken lightly. I am especially hurt by the news of the abuse and subsequent cover-ups and how that must make us look as Catholics. That being said, I am reminded that the shortcomings of human beings is a fact of life, not to be excused particularly in the case of the Irish Church, but to be understood. Is the apology sufficient, therefore? I am not completely sure, especially as that is usually measured by expectations of restitutions and promised path of future compliance with rules and regulations to prevent such abuses going forward. Not everyone is able to live within the bounds of celibacy and chastity and the Church should never be used as a cover for unscrupulous men and women who are afraid to deal with their sexual and other anxieties. Where that has happened, the law should be applied without exception. Abusers should be prosecuted to the fullest extent that the law provides.

  20. March 23, 2010 at 15:59

    The pain of the Pontiff’s apology is measured only by his sincerity and committment to work to prevent future such abuses. I am heartened that at least we are dealing openly with the issue, to the extent that we seem able. What I would also like to see, arising from this issue, is a good, long look at issues of sexuality within the Church. Not just at the level of whether priests should be allowed to be married, but whether marriage, as we understand it today, is the means of sexual expression open to believers. It is not enough I believe to just say that all sexual expression should occur in a marriage, nor is it realistic to expect that people (believers, included!) will live up to these ideals – the Irish Church being a very clear example. Unless and until those matters are addressed in an open and frank kind of way, where honesty, integrity and respect are normative parts of such conversations, the problems will persist. That, I also believe, carries with it the weight of all the other considerations such as contraception, etc. So, while, I am not advocating a change in the Church’s position, necessarilly, I am curious to know how it could use this moment to lead that discussion as best it can.

  21. March 23, 2010 at 16:04

    Just an edit to the line: “…Not just at the level of whether priests should be allowed to be married, but whether marriage, as we understand it today, is the ONLY means of sexual expression open to believers….”

  22. 28 Allan-Houston, Texas
    March 23, 2010 at 16:09

    The question is not “Was the Pope’s letter enough”.
    Try “Is religion?….”

  23. March 23, 2010 at 16:19

    @ Robin Carter, Lexington NY,

    I am no expert here, but I believe that where the Apostle’s Creed says “…the holy Catholic Church…” that expression is in reference to all peoples within the Universal Church. The ROMAN Catholics are a specific group of such believers, not the only ones. Therefore, the expression is in reference to the Church as the living, breathing body of Christ bequeathed to believers, not necessarilly that located in Rome.

    • March 23, 2010 at 18:23

      The nicecne creed was established in 325AD.And is concerned soley with the Roman Catholic faith.Roman Catholics believe that they are the true Christians,all others are false.Which include Greek orthodox,Russian orthodox and all protestant beliefs.

  24. 31 Linda from Italy
    March 23, 2010 at 16:26

    On the subject of the Church preferring Canon Law to the law of the lands in which they operate, ironic isn’t it how so many Christians, including I dare say Catholics, throw up their hands in horror and bleat on about the horrors of Sharia Law?
    Not that I’m advocating that, as to most civilised eyes Sharia includes a whole lot of barbaric punishments for things which are not even against the law in non-theocracies, not to mention being highly discriminatory, indeed I have a feeling the hang-em-‘n-flog-em brigade would quite like some aspects of it.
    In contrast though, Canon Law as is has been (mis?)applied by the Church for centuries would appear to let men and women guilty of heinous crimes of sexual abuse and sheer cruelty (anyone seen the Magdalen Sisters?), mainly against children, get off scot-free and even keep their cushy jobs.

    • 32 Bert
      March 23, 2010 at 17:27

      The point is, though, that Catholic lay people hardly condone these abuses by some within the Catholic clergy. The only “cover up” we are talking about here is WITHIN the ranks of the clergy.

      You won’t see any significant number of Catholics making excuses for any of this, Linda, and therein lies the difference.

    • 33 patti in cape coral
      March 23, 2010 at 18:20

      @Linda – Out of curiosity I looked up the Magdalene Sisters, what a horror… I do have to say though, my mother was brought up a strict catholic and she has always said the happiest years of her life was when she studied with the sisters. On the other hand, my grandfather always told her to be wary of the priests, saying “They are men of God, but they are men first.”

      • 34 Linda from Italy
        March 23, 2010 at 19:05

        Hi Patti, it is indeed a heart-wrenching film, I too went to a convent preparatory school as from a long line of Irish Catholics, on my mother’s side, and I have to say our nuns were lovely, couldn’t say the same about the lay teachers though 😉

      • 35 Tom Noel-Morgan
        March 23, 2010 at 21:27

        @ Linda and Patti:

        I grew up going to Catholic institutions; having studied many, many years in Catholic schools. I’ve also partaken in activities and visits to Catholic Healthcare, Homing, Charity and Humanitarian efforts and institutions.

        I can tell you this from personal experience: There are always rotten apples – as this is part of the human experience and we are all imperfect – but for every one rotten apple I have encountered, there were basketfuls of good priests, nuns and volunteers.

        As I see it, the abuse of minors is indeed a great injustice and it needs to and shall be addressed. However, we cannot correct this injustice by perpetrating another one: the injustice of calling the whole of the Catholic Church a disappointment.

  25. 36 nora
    March 23, 2010 at 16:27

    This is about adults in priestly function sexualizing children. Freaks. Celibates are no more likely than married clergy to offend against children. The guy who got me as a kid and shuffled around the Methodist Church for 14 years was married. Statistics for pedophilia bear out my point. Clergy should be allowed to have full lives, I think the right to date, be gay or married or both should be inherent in a religion with creator logic, but that will not weed out the devious breed of pedophiles.

    • 37 Joane in Cleveland
      March 23, 2010 at 19:17

      I whole heeartedly agree. I am not catholic, either but celibacy has nothing to do with this problem. These are pedophiles. You will be amazed at the lengths these predators will go to reach their objectives. Our poor children. It does not matter the religion, they prey on the becausew they are children. If there were no vows of celibacy, marriage allowed, it would not stop these sick people. Lets not compare apples to oranges. We are looking at predators in the collar, sweat suits, black suits, etc. No matter the religion.

  26. 38 Jaime Saldarriaga
    March 23, 2010 at 17:20

    The Pope´s apology to me is a fact, not something that we should judge.

  27. 39 taratate
    March 23, 2010 at 17:28

    It comes across as sincere as any corporate entity giving an apology for something they got caught for. Would this apology have been forthcoming if there had not been so much publicity around the matter?

  28. 40 nora
    March 23, 2010 at 17:44


    Some of us gave up the best years of our lives bringing civil rights to children who were violated by authority figures. Humble people, unfunded, changed law and learned to apply that law to making communities safer. The Roman Catholic victims deserve the full assurance of the head of the church will respect the civil rights of the innocents. He did not address the cover-up, except to blame Vatican II and hence the legacy of Pope John XXIII.

    • March 23, 2010 at 18:19


      The Catholic Church is doing the same thing as these other noble men and women. The Catholic Church is ensuring that Celibacy is respected and that it is enforced absolutely. It is clear that a more ardent yet strict reform is needed and that change will happen after Vatican III. The Pope is right to say that the second Vatican council has changed the image of the church for the better and also for the worst, but one must not forget the tremendous work that was done to weed out the detritus out of Catholicism. For instance, the church as an institution became a humanitarian organization rather than a political powerhouse. Change will come and the Pope will be the catalyst. Let’s Pray!

  29. 42 stephen nnn Portland/Or
    March 23, 2010 at 17:45

    If they where not up against the ropes with this issue “Don” Pope would not appoigise.
    There are members of the church that still think the stories of abuse are all part of a Hollywood, Jewish ,liberal conspiracy against there faith.

  30. March 23, 2010 at 17:46

    @ Nora,

    Thanks for that insight. I find I continue to come back to this story repeatedly, in part because of its emotional power and painfulness. In fact, I just read Leonet Reid’s (Jamaica) passionate remarks about the ‘wages of sin’ and am again moved to reflect on how emotional this makes me, especially as I have never really been a believer in the gratuitous announcement of one’s identity as a Christian simply for the sake of it. Nonetheless, I strongly believe that something is very much awry in any institution which refuses to address, in full, all the complexitities of the human experience. I agree with Nora’s point that ‘clergy should be allowed to lead full lives’. Perhaps if this were the case, it would weed out the tendency of those inclined to harm others with their sexuality from the ranks of clergy. If we treat this category of people as exceptional and different then that sense of otherness will attract undesirables, even with the best intentions not to do so.

  31. 44 nora
    March 23, 2010 at 17:49


    The lay people who were very active in the church were at first, as obstructionist as the clergy. Clergy don’t exist without a fan club. The fiercest antagonist I ever encountered was a Bishop’s secretary.

  32. 45 Jerome, Padova / Italy
    March 23, 2010 at 17:49

    I am stil waiting to hear reports of sexual assult commited by Catholic Priets from other continents like Africa and South America where there are rapid growths of Catholics, or is there no sexual abuse taking place in those countries?. my opinion is, since the time has come for the Church to evaluate herself, let no stone be left unturned. I pray God to give our Pope the wisdom to ride all evils off the holy Church.

  33. 46 Elias
    March 23, 2010 at 17:56

    The Pope may apologise from now to kingdom come but will never be able to remove the stigma against the Catholic Church. He may be a religious and rightious man, but the sex abuse by several priests cannot be white washed or forgiven. What has been revealed is only a tip of the iceberg. The followers of the church must feel dismayed, however as long as they themseves do good and keep a good concience is surely the best and only way to go.

  34. 47 Mike in Seattle
    March 23, 2010 at 18:06

    I was always taught that apologies don’t mean anything if actions don’t change. We in the United States heard these apologies several years ago, and yet we keep hearing the same terrible stories of abuse from our friends across the Atlantic.

    The apology will never mean anything until children stop being abused.

  35. 48 Donnamarie in Switzerland
    March 23, 2010 at 18:11

    Not only has the pope not gone far enough, he hasn’t gone anywhere at all. Christians are supposed to give to the lord was is the lord’s, and give to Ceasar what is Ceasar’s.

    Religious law was once all there was, but now civil and criminal law obtain in the position the bible gave to Ceasar. Just as Islamic extremists are outside the law when they blow up innocents, so are bent priests outside the law when they diddle innocents.

    The first scandal is that the abuses have and are continuing to happen. The second scandal is that the Catholic church has continued to fail to understand that these abuses are not church matters, they are matters for social services the criminal courts.

    The pope has done nothing but try to delay a final reckoning.

  36. 49 Jerome, Padova / Italy
    March 23, 2010 at 18:13

    I am still waiting to hear reports of sexual assult commited by Catholic Priests from other continents like Africa and South America where there are rapid growths of Catholics, or is there no sexual abuse taking place in those countries?. My opinion is, since the time has come for the Church to evaluate herself, let no stone be left unturned. I pray God to give our Pope the wisdom to ride all evils off the holy Church.


  37. 50 Echo Rose's Mother in Cincinnati
    March 23, 2010 at 18:13

    One says they’re sorry when they break a vase or spill a glass of milk. No, this apology is not good enough. Priests have been getting away with molesting children for many decades. I understand separation of church and state, but this is ridiculous. Why are they above the law? We need to hold priests accountable for their crimes, not simply send the criminals off to another parish where they harm more children.

  38. 51 Carmel
    March 23, 2010 at 18:19

    People have to understand that the Church is a global institution and the Pope as the head will issue an a letter like this, but it is up to the local officials (under the guidance of the Pope) to implement the change.

    My son attended a Catholic school here in the states after the abuse scandal here and I was absolutely pleased the the Church’s response. All parents were required to go through abuse awareness training and learn how to protect children if we suspected abuse. We were educated on the signs of abuse. The fact is something like one out of every 3 children is sexually abused–and this is in the entire world, not just in the Church. Very sad, indeed.

    But because each country has its own culture and laws, it is up to the local people in the church to effect real change, not the Pope. The Pope sets the tone, but we have to bring the criminals to justice in our own countries.

    • March 23, 2010 at 18:34


      As a parent, you have first hand experience with growing up a child in post-abuse scandal church/ educational Institution. First, i must commend you for having faith in the immeasurable amount of resources provided by the Church in educating children.

      Second, I am happy that you have also recognized that this problem is not only plaguing our Church but the entire world and many other institutions. The other day, I was talking to one of my Armenian friends who stated that the Armenian Orthodox Church is suffering from sex abuse scandals also. Plus, in smaller institutions like the family, many children are abused by parents, relatives, strangers or friends?

      If handled properly, the Church will once again the way people think. I believe if the Vatican sees to a proper dismissal of these criminals, and hand them over to the law of the land, the safety of our children will be secure. Also, proper desensitizing training sessions are also needed to ensure that children, parents and victims know their rights as Christians and Civil Citizens.

      Keep the faith.

  39. 53 Niu-from Portland
    March 23, 2010 at 18:21

    While this apology from the Pope is LONG overdue it is certainly not enough and the continued inability accept that it is not immune nor
    The Church has for far too long worked internally and has systemically failed of ever dealing the issues properly. The methods that they have decided to employ as a means of screening potential priests is absolutely laughable. It deals with things (as it always has) secretively, corruptly and with impunity!! It is unfathomable that any religious group, organization or institution has the right to deal with such grievous matters without the active presence and intervention of the law. These pedophile priests must receive the same treatment as any suspected pedophile and not just be tucked away somewhere to repeat their horrible offenses! Until then this will only fester and continue.

  40. 54 Bert
    March 23, 2010 at 18:23


    Perhaps it’s true that a tiny minority of lay people, those who actually work in church jobs, were obstructionists at first. I have not seen the figures to prove this point, though. Sounds rather anecdotal. However, let me point out the obvious.

    You will not see lay Catholics out there making a religious virtue out of physically abusing children. You will not see Catholics claiming that their pedophilia is commanded by God. These practices cause revulsion, in general, among even the most devout of Catholics.

    WHYS in its infinite wisdom has deleted my other post, however the gist of it was that the Pope needs to take action to remedy these problems among the clergy. The apology only sounds sincere if it is the first step.

    • 55 nora
      March 23, 2010 at 19:28

      The psychiatrists were part of the cover up. The lawyers and insurance companies were part of the cover-up. Religious communities shun the victims who stand up. I reformed my state law and my church, but i can never socialize there due to the bitter years of denial and the nasty religious habit of shunning. Good thing the clergy beat the relgioun out of me…

  41. 56 Tom D Ford
    March 23, 2010 at 18:26

    “He acknowledges ’serious mistakes’ were made in how allegations were handled.”

    Those were not “mistakes” when they were committed, they were purposeful attempts and actions to do wrong.

    A “mistake” is something else completely.

  42. 57 joanie lynch
    March 23, 2010 at 18:27

    Apologies and condemnations does not equate restitution. Accountability is vital. Perpetrators must go to trial. Injured , wounded parties have the right to press charges- if not, ? where is justice? The church is not above the law. It is an outrage!
    I stopped being catholic long ago….now am a protestant minister. I have heard stories . You can not imagine the horrendous effect such crimes have on children, adults and then the adults to their children after this abuse— someone has to stop the vicious cycle. The churches entire policy for celibacy originated from wrong reasons and now look at what the fruit of that has become. Lord have mercy.

  43. 58 Alan in AZ
    March 23, 2010 at 18:35

    The Pope doesn’t matter! A real apology should come from the abusers to the abused. Right before the prison door slams shut on them.

    The church should put up a memorial type of shrine, acknowledging the crimes of the church’s clergy with the name of each Abuser from around the world so their crimes will never be forgotten! No matter if they are dead or still living.

  44. 59 Bob in Birmingham
    March 23, 2010 at 18:40

    I would never ever ever ever ever ever let my kids near anyone from the Catholic Church. Anyone who does is playing Russian roulette with their child’s well being.

  45. 60 EchoRose in Florida
    March 23, 2010 at 18:43

    Also Ross, do you plan on having any female guests on this subject today?

  46. 61 Anne
    March 23, 2010 at 18:46

    Pope Benedict should step down. His aggressive complicity if not leadership in a policy of silence and obstruction during his 23 years as Prefect for the Congregation of Faith makes him culpable for this egregious cancer in the church. Another way to frame this, if he hadn’t been in charge all those years, would the code of silence been broken wide open decades ago preventing further victims and abuse? This is not God, this is the deepest human failing imaginable.

  47. 62 EchoRose in Florida
    March 23, 2010 at 18:51

    I have a question for your guests, how many of these offending persons have been sent to jail?

  48. 63 Tom D Ford
    March 23, 2010 at 18:52

    @ 42 Jerome, Padova / Italy
    March 23, 2010 at 18:13

    “I am still waiting to hear reports of sexual assult commited by Catholic Priests from other continents like Africa and South America where there are rapid growths of Catholics, or is there no sexual abuse taking place in those countries?. My opinion is, since the time has come for the Church to evaluate herself, let no stone be left unturned.”

    I thought of that also, but I wonder about abuse in all other religions and organizations where people are put into positions of authority over children.

    I was told years ago that some Protestant churches which have child sexual abusers just pay them off to leave the church quietly and keep their mouth shut.

    Has anyone heard of such problems in other religions or organizations?

  49. 65 Dorothy
    March 23, 2010 at 18:53

    I want to know why THIS issue has raised such a ruckus? There was no such outrage against the male perpetrators of sexual abuse against girls. Most of those perps were trusted family members – fathers, uncles, grandfathers, brothers, close male family friends – far more grievous, in my opinion, than priests. Authorities, judges, lawyers, etc, successfully questioned the veracity of each woman’s story suggesting it was manufactured memory or completely fabricated, or even that she somehow invited the sexual advances by the way she dressed or acted.

    There has been no such questioning of the veracity of these alleged male victims. I am saddened and amazed that we maintain the double standard. Why are these men afforded so much when there are millions of women who have not yet been heard or acknowledged?

    Care to comment? . . . I thought not . . .

  50. 66 Patrick Freeman
    March 23, 2010 at 18:54

    how is it that the authorities are not being held accountable for allowing this perverted organization to continue in this behavior. how can the law be respected anywhere if they allow child abuse in the name of religion? there should be a LOT of arrests in this matter, but the governments are in bed with the church. shame shame shame

  51. 67 Eddie Camarillo
    March 23, 2010 at 18:57

    Writing from Portland, Oregon

    I would like to encourage all Catholics, who are outraged and disgusted by the systemic and institutionalized protection of child rapists, to take action today. You can defect from the church. If the church will not take urgent action then we should. I, for one, formally defected today. I will suggest to all my friends and associates that they do the same. Ireland has an excellent web site to help you do just that at http://www.countmeout.ie.

    Do it today.

  52. 68 Kenneth Ingle
    March 23, 2010 at 19:02

    As Alan says, a real apology can only come from those who have abused others.
    Just as Willy Brandts apology to Poland had no value, because he had never been a Nazi, an apology from the Pope is only valid when he did something wrong himself.
    Many of those now pointing their fingers at Rome should clean up their own doorstep first.

  53. 69 EchoRose in Florida
    March 23, 2010 at 19:02

    OOPS, my apologies for mis-spelling your name Ros…

  54. March 23, 2010 at 19:02

    Apologies without actions are not really of any use,and we have seen very little action to date.I have watched them on TV.All trying and struggling to justify and exonerate themselves.I’m afraid that that does not wash with me,or many other people,judging by the posts.Lets see some action!

  55. March 23, 2010 at 19:15

    No the pope’s apology doesn’t go far enough. He hasn’t excommunicated any of the people who committed or covered up abuse. His words mean nothing if they are not backed up by serious consequences for abusers and their protectors within the Roman Catholic Church.

    The Roman Catholic Church’s handling of this scandle is immoral, so it cannot have any moral authority.

  56. 72 tekkooo
    March 23, 2010 at 19:16

    Your grace
    The damage is done and is irreversible. Those perpetrators must be locked behind bars, and that might just alleviate the suffering of those victims — somehow!

  57. March 23, 2010 at 19:23

    The pope should be in Jail for covering crimes against children. For many years he was the person responsible to oversee the situation and all he did was to
    Encourage criminals to continue committing their crimes, favoring criminals with the tools they need to commit crimes and for obstruction of justice. Such crimes, such destruction in peoples lives go the opposite way with the moral mode he should represent, so unlike Christ.

  58. 74 tekkooo
    March 23, 2010 at 19:26

    Sorry for coming down so hard against Catholic clergy. It would be naive to consider such crimes are only committed in Christianity (Catholic). Other clergies in other religions are also guilty as charged with similar crimes. The only difference is that freedom of speech is quite free in the Christian world.

  59. 75 Myra
    March 23, 2010 at 19:33

    Its my understanding that the clergy are servants of the Lord providing spiritual guidance to the Catholic congregations. But it seems like the clergy would like to take on a ‘godlike’ presence and not have to answer to any law and to be treated differently from the lay persons. With the number of cases of child abuse, one would now expect a long of file of arrests and court cases. Just because ‘they’ work for the church doesn’t mean they should be treated any differently from any other criminals. I also think the church is just closing its eyes and wrapping itself in cotton wool, holding onto the times when it couldn’t be questioned but those times are ebbing away and the church should recognise and acknowlegde that and adapt.

  60. 76 edward benett
    March 23, 2010 at 19:44

    Might the Church want to re-visit its policy of limiting the priesthood to men? Women priests could not do any worse, and may have less of a tendency toward pedophilia, though that’s just a guess. Opening the priesthood to women at least would be an action that would back up the Church’s apologetic words. Relinquishing power, however, is never easy, and it’s possible that women already have given up trying to break the priesthood barrier.

  61. 77 gary indiana
    March 23, 2010 at 19:58

    Did the apology list all pedophilic priests and include that their Vatican dossiers had been forwarded to local prosecutors? If not, then it seems a bit incomplete. The Pope must remember the Vatican isn’t supposed to be in the business of defending people; but of defending morality.

  62. 78 CJ McAuley
    March 23, 2010 at 20:21

    I was raised as a Roman Catholic, being born to my Father (of Irish ancestory) and my Mom was born in Counry Armagh. The last time I set foot in a Church was for my Father’s funeral 8 years ago. My Mother is still alive and has said to me she does not want a funeral. I will put her ashes into the Atlantic ocean off Nova Scotia to send her home when the time comes. For although I no longer have any faith in the institution of the Roman Catholic Church, I continue to practise the teachings of Jesus Christ, for they are part of who I am and try to be. Another “reformation” of the Roman Catholic Church is required NOW. I am not holding my breath, for perhaps Ian Paisley was actually correct when he called the Pope an anti-Christ. While penning lofty words of “penance”, having read the Pastoral Letter to Ireland, it is as much about spin and blame shifting as anything else. For without “root and branch” change we will be hearing the same things from the expanding RC Church in both Africa and South America in the nest 10 years or so!

  63. March 23, 2010 at 20:24

    @ Bob in Birmingham,

    I cannot blame you for thinking the way you do, especially in the light of this new and shocking if not hurtul revelation, but you will also accept that this terrible generalisation is not true of all Roman Catholics, whether laity or clery/ religious.

  64. March 23, 2010 at 20:38

    @ edward bennett,

    Perhaps that is food for thought – opening up the clergy to women. However, what worries me in all this is how much of the praying has actually taken place in terms of seeking an appropriate solution to this crisis. Let us not forget that despite the problems within the Church, itself, the institution was set up to live out the Word of God amongst men. I feel like the Pope needs to make a worldwide appeal across all sections of the Catholic communion to conduct almost mandatory vigils of some kind in which we pray for a solution to the grievous wrongs done in the name of the Church. It is only through powerful witnessing will we win believers, the actions of this moment will determine whether we live up those ideals or not.

    • 81 edward benett
      March 24, 2010 at 19:18

      “food for thought” you say, but then you veer off on a whole other tangent re prayers and vigils. . . when you say the institution was set up to live out the word of god “amongst men,” do you mean to include women? do you have any daughters, sisters or other female family members who might see you as unconsciously-sexually biased? if my comment was “food for thought,” why not chew on it a while?

  65. 82 Tom Noel-Morgan
    March 23, 2010 at 20:45

    I see here a lot of comments from people who have clearly not read the letter at all.

    I did read it and I see in his letter the words of a man committed to resolving a problem. He courageously admitted to the problem and publically pledged himself personally and as Pontiff to correcting these wrongs not only for the present generation and not just for Ireland, but for the future and for all nations where the Catholic Church is inserted.

    He has expressed regret and shame about the fact itself and the about the mishandling of it. He reaffirmed that both the fact and the way it was handled were not coherent with the precepts of the Church (Canon Law or Doctrine). He has urged the abusers to repent and submit to divine and secular authority, and he has made recommendations that any such offence be treated lawfully per the laws of the Church and of Man. He has admonished the bishops who have mishandled the matter and has set teams to scrutinise their actions and to look over their shoulders on this and in other matters. He has initiated a revision of seminaries and the processes of indoctrination of priests to prevent reoccurrence. This is all very practical and very affirmative action.

    And all this was just the beginning, for the Pope has not limited his actions to what’s in the letter, but reaffirmed that he is engaged in the continuity of investigations and in studying means of correcting the wrongs of the past to promote a better future for the Catholic institutions; a future more consistent with the precepts of our Faith.

  66. 83 Ronald Almeida
    March 24, 2010 at 00:47

    The root of the problem lies far deeper in blind faith.
    Who is responsible for that, than the blind sheep?

  67. 84 Tom Noel-Morgan
    March 24, 2010 at 13:22

    @ Ronald Almeida,

    I don’t think we can kid ourselves about the Catholic flock being “blind” nowadays. This very discussion is proof enough that Catholics are well informed and that we do listen to the other side.

    I still think that the problem is two-fold:

    1. Paedophillic individuals are deranged and they’ll go to great lengths to perpetrate their abominations. They are not inherent of the Catholic Church and are present everywhere in our Western Society. The root of paedophillic behaviour is not celibacy nor is it religion, as proven by statistics on child abuse. We need to find out what the root is, so that we may better screen these deranged individuals from our institutions. For the Catholic Church the Pope has already manifested his will that this is done by ordering the revision of seminaries and moral formation policy. The Church is also promoting training for parents that they may be better prepared to detect problems.

    2. An erroneous policy of cover-ups was implemented that was not coherent with Canon Law nor with the Catholic Doctrine. This is being addressed as well and the Pope has commanded the villains to repent and to submit to the civil authorities. He has also commanded that full cooperation is extended to the authorities of each sovereign nation, according to the law of the land.

    This is all very practical and very assertive action, which has nothing to do with blind faith.

  68. 85 MH
    March 24, 2010 at 22:48

    I am a Roman Catholic who wants to see justice both civil and prophetic visited on my church from base to apex . Let the heavens rightly fall on the institutions that have countenanced child rape and privileged their clergy and religious above the welfare of the church’s most helpless members.

    Here in the United States we have been enmeshed in this scandal for nigh on thirty years. It’s about time that the problem reached the shores of Europe and the doorstep of the Vatican.

    The pope’s apology is useless except as a token that the highest church structures see that time is running out. Count on the official church to choose a reactive, not a proactive, role. It is the civil process that will drive this matter forward.

    Friends have said to me, “One priest is not the church, our bishop is not the church, the pope is not the church. The people are the church.” Yes, the people are the church; but the clergy, the bishops, and the pope are also most emphatically the church, certainly by their own accounting. The hierarchy of my church deserves to lose the respect and confidence of its people and of the world at large. It deserves to face fiscal bankruptcy in the civil courts.

    Perhaps this is the avenue through which a radical renewal will come. Roman Catholics acknowledge the pope as the vicar of Christ, but there is one above even him, and that one is the Holy Sprit, the ultimate guide of the church. It may be time for a cleansing fire to descend, and for our leaders to experience not peace but the sword. So be it.

  69. March 25, 2010 at 00:53

    @ Barbara, who was in the show on Tuesday:

    We’ve seen the first resignation in the Irish Catholic Church today. What did I tell you? Don’t loose your hopes, for they are not wasted in Christ’s Catholic Church. There’s more to come. Good will overcome.

  70. 87 nora
    March 25, 2010 at 18:06

    The molesters are sick. The cover-up artists like Ratzinger are much more guilty, because they knowingly committed institutional child rape when they sent these criminals back into service with children.

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