Rorate Caeli


1. Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Church in Ireland, it is with great concern that I write to you as Pastor of the universal Church. Like yourselves, I have been deeply disturbed by the information which has come to light regarding the abuse of children and vulnerable young people by members of the Church in Ireland, particularly by priests and religious. I can only share in the dismay and the sense of betrayal that so many of you have experienced on learning of these sinful and criminal acts and the way Church authorities in Ireland dealt with them.

As you know, I recently invited the Irish bishops to a meeting here in Rome to give an account of their handling of these matters in the past and to outline the steps they have taken to respond to this grave situation. Together with senior officials of the Roman Curia, I listened to what they had to say, both individually and as a group, as they offered an analysis of mistakes made and lessons learned, and a description of the programmes and protocols now in place. Our discussions were frank and constructive. I am confident that, as a result, the bishops will now be in a stronger position to carry forward the work of repairing past injustices and confronting the broader issues associated with the abuse of minors in a way consonant with the demands of justice and the teachings of the Gospel.

2. For my part, considering the gravity of these offences, and the often inadequate response to them on the part of the ecclesiastical authorities in your country, I have decided to write this Pastoral Letter to express my closeness to you and to propose a path of healing, renewal and reparation.

It is true, as many in your country have pointed out, that the problem of child abuse is peculiar neither to Ireland nor to the Church. Nevertheless, the task you now face is to address the problem of abuse that has occurred within the Irish Catholic community, and to do so with courage and determination. No one imagines that this painful situation will be resolved swiftly. Real progress has been made, yet much more remains to be done. Perseverance and prayer are needed, with great trust in the healing power of God’s grace.

At the same time, I must also express my conviction that, in order to recover from this grievous wound, the Church in Ireland must first acknowledge before the Lord and before others the serious sins committed against defenceless children. Such an acknowledgement, accompanied by sincere sorrow for the damage caused to these victims and their families, must lead to a concerted effort to ensure the protection of children from similar crimes in the future.

As you take up the challenges of this hour, I ask you to remember “the rock from which you were hewn” (Is 51:1). Reflect upon the generous, often heroic, contributions made by past generations of Irish men and women to the Church and to humanity as a whole, and let this provide the impetus for honest self-examination and a committed programme of ecclesial and individual renewal. It is my prayer that, assisted by the intercession of her many saints and purified through penance, the Church in Ireland will overcome the present crisis and become once more a convincing witness to the truth and the goodness of Almighty God, made manifest in his Son Jesus Christ.


  1. Anonymous12:00 PM

    Wow, its pretty good. This is firm action by the Holy Father

  2. Anonymous12:22 PM

    This is a statement from a shepherd after God's own heart.

    Penance. Prayer. Sacrifice.

    As Thomas said, "love is the living heart of goodness."

    Long live Benedict XVI!

  3. Question: Why Ireland?

  4. quansceSo the bishops implement the safe environment programs in their dioceses:

  5. I applaud His Holiness for taking the bull by the horns in speaking out clearly about causes of the problem and suggesting remedies both practical and spiritual for the Church in Ireland. However, I submit that this letter could have been addressed to the entire Church for the problem is not limited to Ireland by any means. How many of us have seen the upside-down, topsy-turvy liturgical world presented to us in the aftermath of Vatican II as something totally irreconcilable with how we had been formed as children before the Council? How many of those formed after the Council had the benefit, indeed the knowledge, of what had been presented as Catholic teaching in Catholic Schools before 1965?

    But, with all due respect to the Holy Father, may I suggest that there is one thing lacking - the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, explicitly and publicly, by His Holiness and all the bishops of the Church as requested by Our Mother at Fatima. Those of us familiar with the "secularization" of society and the Church realize that this came about because of the spreading of errors from evil, totalitarian regimes headquartered in Russia. That is still the case today and a refusal to admit same is a huge part of the problem. Our Lady gave us the answer; can we not adhere to her request?

    Even today we see discussions taking place between the Holy See and the FSSPX in an attempt to define what is true insofar as doctrine is concerned. Are those discussions destined to last forever in an almost never-ending search for "communion" with that which has been handed down to us from apostolic times, the Faith, whole and entire, without any change or modification whatsoever?

    I offer my own poor prayers and penances for the resolution of this problem and my perpetual novena for the Holy Father in his efforts to resolve the crisis.

  6. This is excellent. But wait until you hear the whining and whinging of media-friendly clerics in Ireland about Benedict and his programme to 'turn the clock back'. These commentators helped create an environment of hideous banal clericalism that facilitated the crimes and their cover up.

  7. Joe B2:34 PM

    I just don't think another apology is what must come first, nor is there any mention of any punitive measures. This sort of hideous behaviour while masquerading as a consecrated man of God is manifest evidence of a serious commitment to evil.

    First you have to call snakes snakes, and then you have to cut off a few heads in front of the other snakes. Then you can ask if anyone in line would like to apologize.

  8. Anonymous3:22 PM

    this shhould be for the univerisal church!

  9. Peter3:30 PM

    All excellent points, folks. I totally agree with Paul Haley. Except, I was a product of post-VII catechism and due to my OWN research and faith formation. I have come to be maybe one out of a maximum of about five out of a total group of almost 80 that went through the same Catholic school, that actually can say is a true practicing Catholic, attending Mass every week and trying his best to live by the Gospel. My love for the Church in Her pre-VII rites, rituals and traditions afforded me a stronger faith through literature, scripture and attending Mass. Its appalling and disgraceful that this is going on and I can only pray that His Holiness does "clean house" of those people who preach "free love" and behind close doors and in Confessionals desecrate the innocence of a child. My anger gets the best of me and I almost feel myself so disheartened that I could actually turn away from the Church. I pray constantly to maintain a strong faith in the Church and its teachings and I consistently offer prayers for the protection, guidance and intentions of the Holy Father.

    My experience is (or maybe its my own summation) that the main problem with the Church is that She has become overly focused on Herself as a business entity and has lost Her focus on actual faith. I digress that there are certainly many many holy people outside these clerics who have abused children who attempt to maintain a focus on scripture and the teachings of Holy Mother Church. However, there seems to be a lacking of true respect for the Real Presence in the Blessed Sacrament So many people disregard Confession and merely receive Communion without being in a state of grace. I believe there is a disconnect and I can only hope and pray that His Holiness does his best to fix this, as far out of control that it is.

    Joe B is absolutely correct in his thinking as well. However, I have to believe that Pope Benedict truly is sorry for what these victims have gone through and for the lack of support and action that they experienced when they had come forward. I think His Holiness, as a human, is much like us. When you know someone is hurt about something, the first thing we say is "I'm sorry" and then move on with actions to support that these things don't happen again.

    I think His Holiness' Pontificate will be chronicled by his actions of cleaning the Church of Her filth and the infiltration of Satan in Her corners. I also think the Church will come out of this smaller, but certainly more holier, at least that's my hope.

    I pray for the victims of all abuse.

  10. Anonymous4:09 PM

    Irish victims disappointed by pope abuse letter

    By Andras Gergely
    Saturday, March 20, 2010; 8:34 AM

    DUBLIN (Reuters) - Irish victims of clerical child sexual abuse are deeply disappointed by Pope Benedict's letter of apology as it fails to address the role of senior church leaders, a group representing victims said on Saturday.

    "My first response was deep disappointment in the letter," said Maeve Lewis, executive director of victims group One in Four.

    "We feel the letter falls far short of addressing the concerns of the victims," Lewis told Reuters.

    She said the pope's letter focused too narrowly on lower-rank Irish priests without recognizing the responsibility of the Vatican and senior Irish clerics for protecting offenders and dealing with victims.

    "There is nothing in this letter to suggest that any new vision of leadership in the Catholic church exists," Lewis said.

    The letter also does not refer to the resignation of the head of the church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, which victims' groups have demanded, she added.

  11. Even with the apology, still they will bay for Benedict's blood.

  12. I wish to make it clear that I believe responsibility for students in Catholic schools not receiving a traditional Faith formation post 1965 lies not with them but with the Hierarchy.

    For example, in my own case during the 40s and 50s, I was taught by two groups of nuns, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur in grade school and Sisters of St. Joseph in high school. Both of these groups of nuns expressed the Faith in terms it had always been understood, totally in line with Tradition. No funny business tolerated by these nuns in their penitential habits, respect for authority, adherence to the laws of God and the Church, continual references to the Baltimore Catechism, behavior in Church, etc.

    Yesterday, I saw where the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, among others, were invoked by Speaker of the House Pelosi as having given her the catechetical formation for her views concerning Health Care. The Sisters are also listed as signatories to the LCWR Letter in support of the Senate Healthcare Bill and its tacit funding of Abortion through devious means. I was mortified to say the least. All I can say is the Sisters who taught me must be turning over in their graves. By the way the "Catholic" Health Association has also taken a public positions in opposition to the USCCB and in support of the Obama-Senate Healthcare Plan.

    What does all this have to do with the topic of this thread? Simply this - only Our Blessed Mother can help us out of this mess. No action by merely human hands can suffice as a solution for "if you shake hands with the devil, you'll be pulled into hell!"

  13. I really doubt anything will change. The Irish people are ticked, and only throwing priests in jail and getting rid of Bishops will solve the problem. Also if you look at Europe as a whole, it is very bleak. Maybe Europe and not Russia is the one that needs the help, and re-consecration.

  14. Anonymous7:25 PM

    Having now read over this papal letter, I find that it is as wrong as the mitre over the Pope's shield, which replaced the correct and only-correct tiara.

    What we have is only the first step towards correction: prayer. Next we have a future apostolic visitation. This will either be a whitewash or will appear to be one. I suggest the following steps:

    1. Remove all the diocesan bishops of Ireland, who were appointed before 2005 (the beginning of this pontificate), including auxiliary bishops. Some of these will be innocent. Not a problem. The policy is only to assure confidence among the faithful, something they have a right to. There is no implication of guilt on the part of any particular bishop--yet!

    2. Remove all vicars-general and episcopal vicars from all the dioceses and replace them. This would be done by the incoming bishops as a command from Rome.

    3. Have all diocesan records seized and held by a Vatican board of inquiry, consisting entirely of laics appointed by Rome. These would then be examined and all records of sexual abuse would be forwarded to the police for police investigation. The Attorney-General's office could then decide which were credible and proceed with charges where need be and in accordance wtih due process of law.

    4. Replace this Pope's seminary document with one that uses polygraph and psychological testing to refuse the applications of all applicants who have ever, even once, had homerastic inclinations.

    5. Institute new standards churchwide that will forbid priests and religious from ever being alone with fewer then three underage males at any one time without lay supervision.

    6. Defrock and laicise all priests who have been found guilty of any molestation in a court of law--even for one offence.

    7. Get rid of that asinine mitre and restore the tiara to the Pope's personal arms. What is he? Is he a Pope or is he an Anglican bishop?

    This is just for starters. Instead, we have fine words and a Pope who cannot even correct his own symbols of office. Why do we have fine words? It is because the bishops of the world, many of whom are guilty of enabling and even some of whom have been molesters themselves, could publish information that would do the Church irreparable harm. The problem, however, is that irreparable harm has already been done to children. Children outrank all others in the Kingdom.


  15. These are nice words, but where is the action? Will Pope Benedict XVI remove Cardinal Brady or continue to give the signal that his actions are acceptable for a bishop?

  16. "Maybe Europe and not Russia is the one that needs the help, and re-consecration."

    Consecration or not, Russia is restoring her ancient Eastern Orthodox Faith, while Europe is losing the last vestiges of her once Christian civilization. These are interesting times to be sure.

  17. In the midst of the sexual scandal of Boston, why was Cardinal Bernard Law given the honors of becoming archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major and of presiding over a funeral Mass for Pope John Paul II?

  18. Anonymous12:35 AM

    Peter wrote:

    "I think His Holiness' Pontificate will be chronicled by his actions of cleaning the Church of Her filth and the infiltration of Satan in Her corners. I also think the Church will come out of this smaller, but certainly more holier, at least that's my hope."

    By the letter the Holy Father just wrote? Oooh, that will really get people to think twice. The honest people will take heed. The bad will remain bad and indifferent while still remaining. Pastorally, this letter is good. Beyond that, the letters the Church writes today are in the garbage by evening. The Church does not attach any consequences to anything. Really, when was the last time the Chuch actually took concrete action on a broad matter? When has any of us heard the Church actually preach about Hell and how easy it is get to there? Then there's a year of prayer and penance. Yeah, that'll really scare people back into line.

    Well, no one suffered any penalties for their Wall Street scandals, why should anyone expect the Church would do more?

    PKTP wrote:


    Agreed... but... as it is... mediocrity du jour.


  19. Here is a letter published in Saturday's Irish Times:

    Letter to the Editor of the Irish Times; 20th March 2010

    Madam, – In 1975, the year the then Fr Seán Brady conducted his investigation on behalf of the Bishop of Kilmore, I was preparing to become a fully fledged professional social worker for the Eastern Health Board. My fulltime post-graduate course at UCD. led to the British qualification in professional social work which was the qualification required to practice in both Ireland and the UK. We were a class of 30 or so mature students who had already gained experience working for the health boards, the prison service, the psychiatric services and housing authorities. We were rigorously selected and supervised on our fieldwork placements. I completed the course and was adjudged competent to carry out all the duties that might be required of a social worker irrespective of the setting,including child protection.

    Child protection was one of our concerns, but I can honestly say that at no time during the course was child sexual abuse ever mentioned. We were drilled in recognising what was called “non-accidental injury” and warned to be vigilant. Even as a fully qualified social worker I hardly knew that child sexual abuse existed, never mind knowing how to deal with it. There were no guidelines and no protocols, not even for professionals working for the health boards. If I had to deal with a case, which mercifully I did not, it would not have occurred to me to go to the Garda Síochána – and I was the health board representative.

    I suspect that psychologists and psychiatrists did not go to the Garda either. We were profoundly ignorant of the nature and extent of child sexual abuse and paedophilia. It was not talked about; it was not written about; victims did not speak out; they were not interviewed on radio. Thirty-five years on, knowing what we know now, that seems incredible, but it was true for me and I suspect it was true for most of my professional colleagues whose job it was to know these things. We were all truly ignorant and with what we know now were terrible consequences. It puts Fr Seán Brady’s response into context. – Yours, etc,

    MOIRA HIGGINS, Charleville Road, Rathmines, Dublin 6.

  20. How about some real action? There are a lot of words but no disciplinary measures.

  21. "Even with the apology, still they will bay for Benedict's blood.'

    Have you ever had a child sexually abused by a priest in whom you trusted implicitly?

    What victims & victims families want to see is real disciplinary action against those responsible. It is about time we saw those at the top being overthrown & making atonement for their criminal neglect. The post-conciliar church is one without any discipline and which allows its hierarchy to behave as though they are immune before the law. Amidst disorder & chaos, there is no affirmative action.

    Had I been one of those unfortunate parents I would be livid at this document which is full of fine words but has little else to offer. I would have remembered too that he was among the supporters of the liberal trends that ensued after the councils closed in the mid-1960s. Indeed, the trends that permitted bishops & priests to continue their criminal behaviour with apparent impunity: The Vatican remaining silent!

  22. Anonymous4:16 AM

    The Pope's letter in question lacks substance and will prove ineffective in dealing with the sexual abuse issue, according to several posters to this blog.

    On Father Z's blog, the Pope's letter in question is a hard-hitting and "awesome" response to the sexual abuse issue, according to each post that I have read.

    It is fascinating that conservative/Traditional Catholics have read the same Papal letter and have posted such monumentally different responses to the blogs in question.

  23. Anonymous6:53 AM

    See my response at:

    Most people, even devout parents, really don't know what they're talking about.

    Justice is one thing, a lynch mob mentality is another.

    Evidence is the only way of proving guilt. People forget that.

    + Albrecht von Brandenburg


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