Date of Pope's letter on child abuse cases in Ireland is announced
Pope Benedict XVI's highly anticipated pastoral letter to Catholics in Ireland dealing with a child sex abuse scandal involving priests, will be published on Saturday, the Vatican announced Thursday.
Publication of the letter will be accompanied by a briefing on its contents by papal spokesman Father Federico Lombardi to media outlets accredited with the Holy See, DPA reported.
On Wednesday Benedict told the faithful attending his weekly general audience that he hoped the letter "will help in the process of repentance, healing and renewal".
The pontiff's remarks coincided with an apology by the head of Ireland's, Roman Catholics, Cardinal Sean Brady, for failing to alert police about a priest convicted of sexually abusing 20 children over a 40-year period.
The cardinal also signalled that he would reflect on his future.
Irish bishops were summoned to the Vatican in February to discuss the crisis caused by the child abuse revelations and ensuing cover- up.
The Vatican announced that Benedict was working on the pastoral letter shortly after the meeting.
Since then revelations have also surfaced of widespread abuse by priest at Catholic-run institutions in the pontiff's native Germany, but also the Netherlands and Austria.
Earlier this week a top Vatican official, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, indicated the letter would contain "specific measures," on how church institutions and communities, not just in Ireland, should deal with cases of paedophilia and other forms of abuse.
The Irish scandal first came to prominence last November, when a commission headed by Judge Yvonne Murphy heavily criticized the church for its handling of over 300 sex abuse claims in the archdiocese of Dublin from 1975 to 2004.
The commission concluded that bishops often protected abusers and were more interested in maintaining secrecy and protecting church assets than in helping victims.