March 20th, 2012
10:17 AM ET

Vatican begs forgiveness of Ireland abuse victims

By Richard Allen Greene and Peter Taggart, CNN

(CNN) - The Vatican begged forgiveness from Irish victims of child sexual abuse by priests as it released a major report into the problem Tuesday, but victims responded with anger and disbelief at the report's finding that new safeguards are working.

"With a great sense of pain and shame, it must be acknowledged that within the Christian community, innocent young people were abused by clerics," a high-level Catholic Church committee found.

"Those who should have exercised vigilance often failed to do so effectively," the committee found.

"For these faults, forgiveness must once more be asked: from God and from the victims!" the commission of top church leaders said.

The head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, echoed those words Tuesday.

"In expressing true sorrow and regret, we make our own the heartfelt plea for forgiveness from the victims, and from God, for these terrible crimes and sins," he said.

But activists for survivors of abuse said the report did not go nearly far enough.

"In a very, very small way in the summary they acknowledge the fact that damage has been done by what they call 'the problem' of the abuse of minors," said Jon McCourt of Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse.

But, he added, "the church could have used Ireland as a beacon of light and hope for victims of institutional and clerical abuse across the world. And it looks like the opportunity has been missed."

And a U.S.-based group dismissed the report as "another tired, ineffective re-hash of the promises made by U.S. bishops a decade ago, promises that have had little impact on this crisis."

"No institution can police itself, especially not an ancient, rigid, secretive all-male monarchy with a horrific history of ignoring and concealing child sex crimes," said Barbara Dorris, outreach director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

She said internal reports were "nearly meaningless," and argued that "self-serving Catholic officials can't police or reform themselves," so secular authorities should do so.

"That's the real remedy - increase the will and the ability of independent professionals in law enforcement and the judiciary to investigate, expose, punish and deter child sex crimes and cover-ups," she said.

The Vatican suggests in its report Tuesday that the problem is largely in the past.

"Beginning in the 1990s, decisive progress has been made, leading to a greater awareness of the problem and profound changes in the way of addressing it," the report said.

Guidelines dating from 2008 "have proved to be an effective instrument for handling accusations of abuse and for increasing the awareness of the entire Christian community in the area of child protection," it continued.

"Much attention and care has been shown to the victims, both in terms of spiritual and psychological assistance and also from a legal and financial standpoint," the report said.

The investigators make a number of recommendations, including suggesting that seminaries do more to prepare candidates for the priesthood for "a life of priestly celibacy."

They also recommend that the Irish Church develop guidelines for what to do with priests who have been accused of abuse but whom authorities have declined to prosecute.

And they advise that procedures be put in place to help those falsely accused and then cleared of abuse, and where to house those who are convicted of abuse.

Pope Benedict XVI set up the investigation, formally known as an Apostolic Visitation, in response to a series of independent reports that found thousands of Irish children had been physically or sexually abused by Catholic clergy over several decades.

Confronted with accusations of abuse, bishops tended to move abusive priests to new parishes, the Irish government-backed reports found.

The most recent one, known as the Cloyne report, found that abuse and cover-ups continued well after the scandal broke, and after safeguards were established by the Catholic Church in Ireland.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Catholic Church • Ireland

soundoff (356 Responses)
  1. tnfreethinker

    The officials of the Catholic church have no basis to teach morality. Their fights against contraception, women's right to choose and the gays are ridiculous when presented on moral grounds by those who have no morals.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
  2. prophet

    the main situation that God will talk with you is that you need to admit that your a sinner and everyone is this whether they like it or not.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:56 pm |
    • the summit!

      Yes, I have done that! I've added that to my prayers for at least the last 30 years. But still ... nothing! I'm at a loss.
      Please tell me some of the things God has said to you. Maybe he really meant to say them to me?

      March 20, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  3. prophet

    ask yourself why you want to talk with God. But it seems maybe that you need to identify your need first.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • William DeMuth

      I want to remind him he is under a death sentence, and if he returns I shall personally crucify him again.

      Alas the coward has caller ID, so he never picks up the line.

      March 20, 2012 at 1:55 pm |
  4. RoseMcB

    Too little, too late.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
    • On their behalf

      Rodie dear since you were a victim of this heinous crime against humanity we ask you to

      get over yourself, idiot.

      March 20, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  5. the summit!

    Prophet and "just sayin"
    You are disappointing me too, just like God! Here you are, people who have actually talked to God. And you won't share with me your secret on how to do it. You haven't even told what God said!
    Please have mercy on someone who doesn't want to go to the grave without first hearing the word of God in my ears.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • AGuest9

      It's simple. They're off their meds.

      March 20, 2012 at 1:46 pm |
  6. Ykcyc


    Religion is a sickness of the mind
    It twists, distorts reality and will
    Divide, sort, break, and label our kind
    Delusion that is truly evil, ill.
    Religion is a sickness of the world
    Opinions, positions, thoughts, beliefs
    Can only bring destruction, pain, and war
    Can only cause more bloodshed, grief, and tears
    Lies that are spread to keep the hate alive
    Contagious blindness, masked as real Truth
    To see, one only has to look with open mind
    And open heart, to break from prison of their views
    Blind faith, unconsciousness, fanatic make-believe
    Like wounded animal, tries to defend itself
    Imagined enemies and threats to its own myth
    Cause pain and suffering in its own hell
    Infects our minds with thoughts of right and wrong
    Pretends to be the Truth, to know what it is
    Based on reality that’s long been gone
    It lies of Love, true kindness, bliss, and peace
    Pretends, as if it’s possible in words
    Express the miracle, that is One Life, itself
    The depth of space, the “why?” of countless worlds
    Contained in dusty books, decaying on the shelf?
    Reality itself, Eternal, Infinite, Divine
    It’s purpose, plan, and reason “why?”
    It’s everywhere and all the time
    For “special me”, to grant me “mine”?
    For us to feel the joy, to simply be
    Exists reality beyond religion’s plan
    Beyond the ego’s, “mine”, and “me”
    Lies consciousness of Tao and Zen.
    To notice, all we have to do is listen, look
    Inside, One Truth, One Life is who we truly are
    But, we won’t get from “them” or “their books”
    The fact, God does exist, it’s only Love.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  7. john

    sickest thing ist that people still flock in the millions to churches around the world. stupidity allways gets the short end of the straw, and the vatican knows that. so sad

    March 20, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  8. TopView20

    This latest report from the Vatican is further evidence that the Church is not prepared nor intent upon effectively addressing this most important moral failing that is rife throughout the church. Clearly, Catholic officials are not able to address these matters nor cause reform. The only feasible measure would be imposing extreme secular measures upon the church, and extraordinarily severe penalties upon the secular authorities should they fail to execute their responsibilities with upmost diligence, effectiveness, and efficiency. However, secular authorities have frequently failed to exercise sufficient efforts against the very influencial and wealthy church hierarchy. To this I say, to hell with reform policies and expedient processes, let the Vatican instead deal with the traditional Celtic wrath of vengence which is completely warranted. When the Vatican finds the fate of much of it´s hierachy in the hands of the fearless Celts, justice will begin.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  9. prophet

    God talks with people when He Chooses and what we need to do is Believe and be in prayer ready for this. We can't make Him do anything, But as Our Saviour Says just keep asking and you will get the help.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • the summit!

      Please! Please! Tell me how you get him to talk to you!
      I've been trying now for 46 years! I've given up my job, my family life, everything to be able to talk to God.


      March 20, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • J.W

      Is any of that actually true summit?

      March 20, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
    • think for yourself

      Capitalizing words does not make your imaginary friend any less imaginary.

      March 20, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
    • the summit!

      Well, prophit says God speeks to him. So does "just sayin".
      I want to talk to God too! I've been trying since I was little. I've given up everything for this. Prophet says you just got to keep on trying, and that is what I am doing.
      But how much longer! What more do I have to give up! What do I do ???

      March 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • john

      to "the summit": I believe the next iPhone will have an app for that. 😀

      March 20, 2012 at 1:19 pm |
    • TopView20

      At some point, most adults would be expected to stop believing in the Easter Bunny, Santa Clause, the Vatican, and all the other "nice" fiction created for children. At some point, adults need to behave like adults, and remove tyrranical organizations that predate upon the innocent. After you have done all of this, you are free to go out in your backyard and pretend again.

      March 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • Doc Vestibule

      God speaks to people all the time.
      In 2008, He told Boyce Singleton Jr. to shoot and stab his pregnant girlfriend.
      Deanna Laney heard God direct her to bludgeon her three sons, aged 9, 6 and 15 months. Only the youngest survived.
      Blair Donnelly received instructions to stab to death his 16 year old daughter, Stephanie.
      Christopher Varian was slaughtered with a cheese knife after God spoke with one of his employees.
      God told Jennifer Cisowski to dash her infant's head on the rocks, so ""Just like Jesus raised Lazarus, I threw the baby on the stones by the pool."
      Khandi Busby got a direct message from God advising her that the only way to save her 6 and 8 year old boys was to toss them off a bridge in Dallas. Fortunately, they survived.
      Angel Rico says he received a divine command to strangle his 4 year old son, so he did just that and left him at the side of the highway.
      Lashaun Harris threw her 3 kids – aged 6, 2 and 16 months, into the San Francisco Bay after God let her know that He wanted a human sacrifice.
      All of these people have been found legally insane by the judicial system.
      If you hear God's voice speaking to you, it's time to check in with your local psych ward.

      March 20, 2012 at 2:02 pm |
  10. prophet

    the main thing that was taught by Our Saviour was to share out the wealth of a Believer with the poor and so you have to ask have the vatican and the other so called christians done this. They are very sick people and mislead people.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  11. Dallas

    Following on from most of the comments already provided, I hope we can now move on and see the Catholic Church as one of the most evil organizations ever to curse the Earth and the nonsense of "religion" put in its rightful place as a weird aberration and not something which should have a special place (tax free, oversight free, assumed to be right etc etc) in society.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  12. prophet

    this is why the christians use the name jesus christ because if they used Our Saviours real Name then they would not be allowed to do what they do which is mislead people.

    March 20, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  13. prophet

    God talks to everyone all of the time but they don't know it and this is why we need to Believe because otherwise we are not able to understand. i am sorry for those that believe in jesus christ as they have been misled as Our Saviour was never called this and so poor things have been praying in the wrong direction.

    March 20, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • the summit!

      I can't get god to talk to me. I pray and I pray and I pray, but nothing happens. How do you do it?

      March 20, 2012 at 1:01 pm |
    • think for yourself

      I just talked to "Him", and "He" said everyone must give me 1 million dollars. Disobey "Him" at your own risk.

      March 20, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
    • TopView20

      How do you do it? 1) You either grow up and stop pretending, or 2) Talk to Rick Santorum who claims to be annointed by God himself.

      March 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  14. SeanRed

    Rather than hiding in the darkness and avoiding responsibility, the Catholic Church might want to investigate why they attract so many aberrant, maladjusted adults into their "religious" orders. There is clearly a core dysfunction in a rigid belief system that has attracted so many reprobates and that has hurt so many people in so many ways over the centuries...

    March 20, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • William DeMuth


      The RCC intentionaly recruited people with abnormal drives for well over half a century.

      They used the stigma of it as a way to compell both Irish and Italian families into push their "unusual" sons into the clergy.

      The celibacy was used as a carrot for the families, so they might be spared the trauma of the public seeing their sons revealed.

      March 20, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  15. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    March 20, 2012 at 12:22 pm |
    • Ykcyc

      @all those who “think” that prayer “works”, for “them”…
      It is hilarious (with a touch of insanity), when some of these delusional, insignificant, irrelevant, soon to be rotting corpses elevate and talk themselves into believing that, by simply talking to Eternity and Infinity, they can actually get what they want. They “deserve” it simply for being a “good” little boy / girl. Get that?! What a mind-phuck! By simply asking, these “special cases” can make the Universe bend over and pop out a Ferrari! They can make God himself (yes, it’s a “he”) do or not do “things”. It appears that their version of “god” is some sort of a puppet on a string (maybe a stick) that is “compelled” to obey their “requests”. If that is not blasphemy, then I don’t know what is. If what they say was true, there would be no more wars, tsunamis, beheadings, pain or suffering! People! Please join me and rejoice in grati-tude for these very “special” mammalian specimens that think that just because they “think” and believe something to be true, therefore it must be true! Santa is real! Elvis is alive! Ferrari anyone?

      March 20, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
    • just sayin

      Sadly you are misinformed as to what a relationship with God is all about. No one can be "good" enough to get into heaven and deserves got nothing to do with it.

      March 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm |
    • BRC

      @just sayin,
      That is only one religion's interpretation of a relationship with "God", one that a reasonable people could point out doesn't make terribly much sense. Why would an all powerful supposedly benevolent being that created and oversaw the vastness of the universe does not do value based judgement when determinng something's fate (if that being even cared at all)

      March 20, 2012 at 12:39 pm |
    • Ykcyc

      @just sayin,
      You poor thing... You have created your "god" in your own image. It exists only in your head and nowhere else. You are using your limited and conditioned human brain to concoct an image of that, which is beyond your ability to know. You pretend to know. You pretend to believe. You are completely clueless. You are too scared to admit the Truth. You want to go to heaven, but not right now. Do this world a favor and go ahead. Go and emjoy the Eternity. Unfortunately for you, you will have absolutely nothing to enjoy it with. You have eyes and ears now, but you are not using them anyway. You are lost in your own head.

      March 20, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
    • Robert Brown

      just sayin is correct. This is the devils most effective lie, "I'm just as good as, or I'm no worse than" While most folks could say that and be correct it won't help them get into heaven.

      March 20, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
    • Dallas

      Oh really? And i suppose religion is really healthy for "Children and other living things". Have you read about the Crusades, the Inquisition, quite apart form the perverted Catholic priests (not to mention the disgusting things carried out by other religions (e.g. 9/11).

      I do not see atheism as being nearly that unhealthy. Open your eyes to reality. Throw off the brainwashing you had as a kid. We all need to grow up some time. It is never too late.

      March 20, 2012 at 1:08 pm |
    • TopView20

      Lost freak.

      March 20, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
  16. momoya

    At some point the church should quit apologizing and just quit.

    March 20, 2012 at 12:14 pm |
  17. CatholicMullah

    Gang of pedophiles, disgusting. Fleecing the public under the guise of religion.

    March 20, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • jimtanker

      Fleecing the public is what religion is all about.

      March 20, 2012 at 12:09 pm |
  18. Celtic

    F-them !!!! sick twisted people. Being from Ireland, I would love to see them hang, I'll even buy the rope.

    March 20, 2012 at 11:43 am |
    • William DeMuth

      Sharing Irish blood, I am somewhat ashamed that so many were in denial.

      This was egregious, it really required a conspiracy of silence for this to have continued for so long.

      I hope my ancestral home and its people shall take this opportunity and mature.

      Seeking the shelter of fairy tales has done them such a disservice that perhaps some good may yet be gleaned from this.

      For the first time in over 50 years, I have met Irishmen who admit proudly to Atheism.

      I truly hope for them and us all that the seeds that were planted may turn the society towards modernity and rationality!

      March 20, 2012 at 11:56 am |
    • Celtic


      I was born in Moy or the Moy as we say with love. I am proud of it but mortified at was has taken place. My family is beyond disgusted with the church and how they choose to handle it. I'm not an Atheist however your post was well put. Continue to stand up for what you believe or not believe.

      March 20, 2012 at 12:04 pm |
    • William DeMuth


      Believe as you will! Alas your society can now see the cost of blind faith.

      Ironicaly I believe the British said it best (in the words of an old Who song) when they recomended that you get down on your knees and pray that you don't get fooled again!

      I shall have a Guinness in your honor!

      March 20, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • Celtic

      Please have two for me. As I am headed back to school (In Belfast). I'm sure you can imagine the anger in that region. I will need more than the luck of the Irish!!!!!

      March 20, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  19. jimtanker

    What about all of the other victims?

    They should never be forgiven until every single one of the priests that commited the crimes have been dealt with in the way that they should be.

    Cut it off!!

    March 20, 2012 at 11:34 am |
  20. William DeMuth

    God may forgive them, but as for myself, I say we hang them.

    False contrition to imaginary Gods is how we got here in the first place.

    Celibate old men who believe in fairy tales are a risk to your children, and the church itself is guilty of crimes against humanity. It MUST be destroyed so that others shall see that sooner or later, justice must be served by men onto men, and all the blatherings about Jesus are irrelevant.

    Find them, charge them and imprison them NOW.

    March 20, 2012 at 11:00 am |
    • Brad

      I agree. Hold all who were involved accountable before the law. I do think the Roman Church will survive as an institution, a much more credible one if they act decisively and are transparent about it. But maybe that's not their style.

      March 20, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • closet

      I smell lawyers in the mix. This is why it's "not their style".

      March 20, 2012 at 11:35 am |
    • just sayin

      I will pray that God talks to you like he does me every day. Praise Jesus!

      March 20, 2012 at 11:58 am |
    • the summit!

      just sayin,
      I can't get god to talk to me. I pray and I pray and I pray, but nothing happens. How do you do it?

      March 20, 2012 at 12:03 pm |
    • Ykcyc

      @just sayin
      If you hear voices in your head, I "pray" that you go and see a doctor. This could simply be a case of Schizophrenia and they now have medication for that. Just because you believe something, it does not make it real. Good luck.

      March 20, 2012 at 12:12 pm |
    • just sayin

      This is my first post on this story

      March 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.