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VATICAN CITY (RNS) The Vatican is facing calls to apologize — as yet unanswered — for the large-scale child abuse by Irish Catholic priests detailed in a damning government report.
The new report, issued by a commission charged with probing allegations involving the Archdiocese of Dublin between 1975 and 2004, revealed a pattern of clergy abuse that was covered up by the Church, at times with the collusion of the Irish police.
“The pope should come here and make an apology to the victims and the Irish nation, and he should be contrite and sincere,” John Kelly, one of the founders of the Survivors of Child Abuse association, told The Irish Times.
The report said the archdiocese placed greater importance on protecting the church’s reputation and maintaining secrecy than it did on children’s welfare and justice for victims.
Starting in 1940, four successive archbishops of Dublin were aware of complaints, the report said, but church authorities failed to implement most of their rules on dealing with abuse.
“As archbishop of Dublin and as Diarmuid Martin, a person, I offer to each and every survivor, my apology, my sorrow and my shame for what happened,” said Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin.
The Vatican, however, has not yet commented on the report’s findings.
A Vatican spokeswoman told RNS it was up to the Irish church to respond. Some have challenged that assertion on the grounds the Vatican was also criticized for not cooperating with the inquiry.
The commission asked for details of reports on abuse sent to the Vatican by the Dublin Archdiocese in 2006, but the Vatican did not reply, later saying the request had not gone through appropriate diplomatic channels.
A request for information from the Holy See’s ambassador to Ireland, Giuseppe Leanza, was ignored, too.
A senior Dublin churchman, Auxiliary Bishop Eamonn Walsh, told the Bloomberg news agency the Vatican should have responded with “courtesy and cooperation” to the commission.
“If it were me, I would apologize,” he said, adding he was speaking in a personal capacity.
The parallels to similar scandals in the U.S. church and other parts of the world — with eerily similar charges of cover-up and shuffling predatory priests from one church to another — have also led to demands for action.
“Let’s stop using the past tense and start using the present tense.
It’s foolish to assume or believe that what’s happened in the past isn’t happening now,” said Barbara Blaine, a founder of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
“We beg church officials to take practical steps to deter future recklessness, callousness and deceit, by publicly and strongly disciplining every single church worker who ignored or concealed child sex crimes, or who is doing so today.”
By Paul Virgo
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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