Aide: Pope Against Culture of Silence

Father Lombardi Comments on Letter to Ireland

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 21, 2010 ( Benedict XVI has always worked against the culture of silence in regard to the abuse committed by priests, says a Vatican spokesman.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican’s press office, said this Saturday to reporters regarding the Pope’s letter to Catholics in Ireland.

«Truth, awareness, pain, conversion, commitment,» these are the letter’s key words according to the Vatican spokesman.

«It is a document that is not after excuses, it is honest, sincere,» Father Lombardi explained. «The pastoral letter remains very honestly and loyally focused on the Church, on the responsibilities of the members of the Church, on the sufferings inflicted on others and on not putting the problem elsewhere.»
The Jesuit priest noted that before publishing this letter the Pope studied the Ryan and Murphy Reports and met with the Irish bishops. «The Pope does not think that this is a simple and quick thing. He says ‘This is only one step on a long road.'»
Responding to the journalists’ questions, Father Lombardi pointed to the Pope’s work, from before his election to the present, against pedophilia in the Church and against the «culture of silence.»

«Those who know the situation and know the work done by the Pope,» he said, «find that the Pope is a witness to the effort at consistency and clarity and that his time at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was not a time of covering up or of hiding issues but always of the most decisive commitment to clarification and intervention.»

The Vatican spokesman explained that the letter to Irish Catholics is a pastoral document and so «it is clear that in it there is no discussion about decisions relative to the possible dismissal of prelates, which is the purview of the Pope and the Congregation for Bishops.»

He also spoke about the difference between the situation of the Church in Germany and the Church in Ireland: «In the letter the Pope deals with the problem in general, but also in the specific context of Ireland, which is different from the German one.»

Father Lombardi then stressed that the members of the Church are called to respect the laws of the countries in which they live and to cooperate with civil authorities.

The Church, he continued, presents itself as a moral authority and so these crimes are all the more grave if they are committed by ecclesiastics.

Father Lombardi also announced that a new section of the Vatican Web site would bring together pontifical documents related to the issue of sexual abuse.

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