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Vatican City » Pope Benedict XVI expressed "outrage," "shame" and "profound regret" over revelations of large-scale child abuse by Irish Catholic priests, the Vatican said Friday.
The statement came after Benedict met with Ireland's two leading bishops, Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh and Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, along with Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's No. 2 official.
The pope summoned the Irish bishops to discuss a report issued last month that found a pattern of clerical physical and sex abuse from 1975-2004 that had been covered up by the Archdiocese of Dublin, at times with the collusion of the Irish police.
Benedict was "deeply disturbed and distressed" by the report, the Vatican said, and expressed his "profound regret at the actions of some members of the clergy who have betrayed their solemn promises to God, as well as the trust placed in them by the victims and their families, and by society at large."
The Irish report said the church placed greater importance on protecting its reputation and maintaining secrecy than it did on children's welfare and justice for victims. Starting in 1940, four successive archbishops of Dublin were aware of complaints, the report said, but church authorities failed to implement most of their rules on dealing with abuse.
"The Holy See takes very seriously the central issues raised by the report, including questions concerning the governance of local church leaders," the Vatican statement said.
"We are looking at a very significant reorganization of the church in Ireland," Dublin's Archbishop Martin told reporters after meeting with the pope.
The report also criticized the Vatican for not cooperating with the inquiry. The commission had asked for details of reports on abuse sent to the Vatican by the Dublin Archdiocese in 2006, but the Vatican did not reply, later explaining that the request had not gone through proper diplomatic channels.
One advocate for American victims of clerical sex abuse voiced dissatisfaction with the pope's response.
"Instead of writing a letter, we hope the pope takes action," said David Clohessy of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, who demanded the dismissal of church officials incriminated in the report.