THE Pope suggested the Catholic Church in Britain could share the lessons it has learned about child abuse with wider society in an effort to help suffering children elsewhere.
The pontiff acknowledged the scandal “seriously undermines the moral credibility of Church leaders” but he said they had taken “serious steps” to ensure that children are protected from harm.
“Your growing awareness of the extent of child abuse in society, its devastating effects and the need to provide proper victim support should serve as an incentive to share the lessons you have learned with the wider community,” he told bishops gathered at Oscott College, Sutton Coldfield.
“Indeed what better way could there be of making reparation for these sins than by reaching out, in a humble spirit of compassion, towards children who continue to suffer abuse elsewhere?”
The Pope’s remarks, in the final hours of his four-day trip to Britain, are the latest in a series of strong statements he has made about the clerical sex abuse scandal during his visit.
Yesterday, he expressed his “deep sorrow and shame” after meeting five clerical sex abuse victims, at the residence of the Vatican’s ambassador to Britain in Wimbledon, south west London.
In a Mass at Westminster Cathedral earlier that day, he apologised for the “unspeakable” crimes committed by the Church and expressed his “deep sorrow” for victims.
The Pope also met British representatives yesterday involved in child protection in the Catholic Church.
The Pope also told the assembled bishops that the so-called “personal ordinariates” unveiled last year by the Vatican, were a “prophetic gesture”.
The scheme, where disaffected Anglicans could become Catholics while retaining elements of their spiritual heritage could help contribute “positively” to relations between the two churches, Pope Ratzinger said.
“It helps us to set our sights on the ultimate goal of all ecumenical activity – the restoration of full ecclesiastic communion in the context of which the mutual exchange of gifts from our respective spiritual patrimonies serves as an enrichment to us all,” he said.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved