DUBLIN, Ireland – Pope Benedict XVI was visibly upset to hear June 5 of the abuse suffered by thousands of Irish children in the care of religious congregations, reported the archbishop of Dublin, Ireland.
Speaking at a June 8 press conference, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said the pope was saddened to hear “how the children had suffered from the very opposite of an expression of the love of God.”
Archbishop Martin and Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland, president of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, met with Pope Benedict for 45 minutes to brief him on the findings of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse, which released its report May 20.
“The Holy Father listened very carefully, very attentively and very sympathetically to what we had to say” during the 45-minute private meeting at the Vatican, Cardinal Brady said during the press conference.
The visit with the pope followed a series of meetings to discuss the report’s findings held by Cardinal Brady and Archbishop Martin in early June with Vatican officials, including seven cardinals from various pontifical congregations.
“He said in reply that this was a time for a deep examination of life here in Ireland in the church, Cardinal Brady said.
The pope referred to the points he made during the 2006 ad limina visit of the Irish bishops when he urged them to establish the truth of what happened, ensure justice on behalf of all, put in place measures to prevent such incidents from occurring again and healing “the hurts suffered by the survivors.”
“No doubt he will be listening to the seven cardinals to whom we spoke over the course of the week and will be reflecting on all of that,” Cardinal Brady said.
The commission’s report is at the top of the agenda of the Irish bishops’ summer meeting June 8-10 at the Pontifical University at St. Patrick’s College, Maynooth, in Kildare, Ireland.
The independent commission was established by the Irish government in 2000 to hear evidence from people alleged to have suffered abuse at institutions since 1940. Funded by the state but often run by Catholic religious orders, the institutions included schools, orphanages, hospitals, children’s homes and other facilities where children were in the care of nonfamily members.