By Junno Arocho
DUBLIN, Ireland, JUNE 13, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Marc Ouellet, papal legate to the 50thInternational Eucharistic Congress, participated in a pilgrimage to Lough Derg on Monday and Tuesday, where he met with a representative group of survivors of child abuse in the Church. The representatives included victims of clerical and institutional abuse from different parts of Ireland. Each survivor had an opportunity to give their experience and the impact that it has had in their lives. The meeting with survivors lasted two hours.
The papal legate, who is the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, celebrated Mass at the pilgrimage site’s St. Patrick’s Basilica with 100 Irish and international pilgrims from the Eucharistic congress. His pilgrimage to the lake island in County Donegal was made at the Holy Father’s request. He fasted and did the traditional penitential exercises that pilgrims to the island do, before his meeting with the victims.
In his homily at the basilica, Cardinal Ouellet indicated that he was sent to Lough Derg by Pope Benedict XVI to ask God’s forgiveness for sexual abuse by clergy not only in Ireland, but anywhere in the Church. “In the name of the Church, I apologize once again to the victims, some of whom I have met here in Lough Derg,” he said.
“The tragedy of the sexual abuse of minors perpetrated by Christians, especially when done so by members of the clergy, is a source of great shame and enormous scandal. It is a sin against which Jesus himself lashed out: ‘It would be better for him if a millstone was put around his neck and he is thrown in to the sea than for him to cause one of the little one’s to stumble’ (Luke 17:2).”
The Canadian prelate reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s commitment to providing a safe environment for children where “a new culture of respect, integrity, and Christ-like love would prevail in our midst and permeate the whole society.”
Regarding the meeting with survivors of abuse, the cardinal said that he was deeply moved and would be reporting on the meeting to the Holy Father.
Cardinal Ouellet’s delegation included the papal nuncio in Ireland, Archbishop Charles Brown, along with Bishop Liam MacDaid of Clogher, where they stayed overnight. During their stay, they fasted and participated in other penitential exercises with the pilgrims on the island.