Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, left, and Archbishop Charles Brown, apostolic nuncio to Ireland, visit the "penitential beds" containing the remains of Celtic monastic life at Lough Derg in County Donegal, Ireland, June 12. During his visit to Lough Derg , Cardinal Ouellet, papal delegate to the International Eucharistic Congress, met privately with people who were abused as children by clerics or members of church institutions. CNS photo/John McElroy

Cardinal Ouellet, representing Pope, meets with Irish abuse victims

By  Catholic News Service
  • June 13, 2012

DUBLIN - Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, representing Pope Benedict XVI, met with Irish victims of church-related child abuse.

The cardinal, papal legate to the International Eucharistic Congress, met with the victims of institutional and clerical abuse during a pilgrimage to Lough Derg in Country Donegal June 12 and 13.

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Read the full text of Cardinal Ouellet's homily at Lough Derg

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The cardinal spent about two hours meeting with victims on Station Island, then celebrated Mass in St. Patrick's Basilica, said a statement by the Catholic Communications Office.

During his homily, the cardinal told victims that the pope asked him to "come to Lough Derg and ask God's forgiveness for the times clerics have sexually abused children, not only in Ireland but anywhere in the church."

"I come here with the specific intention of seeking forgiveness, from God and from the victims, for the grave sin of sexual abuse of children by clerics. We have learned over the last decades how much harm and despair such abuse caused to thousands of victims. We learned, too, that the response of some church authorities to these crimes was often inadequate and inefficient in stopping the crimes, in spite of clear indications in the Code of Canon Law," the cardinal said.

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View photo gallery of the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin

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He apologized to the victims "in the name of the church" and repeated Pope Benedict's message to Irish Catholics, in which the pope expressed shame and remorse but asked victims not to lose hope.

St. Patrick's Purgatory on Station Island in Lough Derg is among the oldest centers of Christian pilgrimage in Western Europe. During the pilgrimage, Cardinal Ouellet and others spent the night on the island and participated in penitential exercises with other pilgrims.

Among those accompanying the cardinal were U.S. Archbishop Charles Brown, the apostolic nuncio to Ireland, and Bishop Liam MacDaid of Clogher, the diocese in which the pilgrimage center is located.

In the past few years, a series of independent inquiries uncovered decades of abuse and cover-ups of sexual abuse within the Irish church and in church-run institutions. One judicial report accused the Vatican of being "entirely unhelpful" to Irish bishops trying to deal with abuse.

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