Pope Benedict XVI issued an eight-page pastoral letter of apology Saturday to the 15,000 victims of child sex abuse at the hands of Ireland's Roman Catholic Church. Using "impassioned" and "personal" language, the Pope expressed "shame and remorse" for the "criminal acts" — but stopped short of calling for disciplinary measures, a move that has disappointed and angered many victims' families. Was the detailed response ultimately an empty gesture? (Watch a CBS report on the Pope's apology)
Pope Benedict didn't do nearly enough: The Pope's response to this "crisis...can only be seen as inadequate," says the Belfast Telegraph in an editorial. Perhaps he thinks stating "the blindingly obvious" helps, but where are the "concrete proposals to help those who were so grievously abused," or a comprehensive preventative strategy? If this is what passes as an apology, how can the Vatican "regain any...respect"?
"Editor's Viewpoint: Full Inquiry into abuse still needed"
He did far more than his predecessor: "I wish Benedict would have held certain bishops more directly to account," says Rod Dreher in Beliefnet, but the Pope addressed the issue with "a level of detail and directness that is incomparably better than the vague euphemisms Benedict's predecessor used," when he talked about it at all. Remember, "on more than a few occasions, Benedict has met with victims of pederast priests; John Paul II, for all his personal sanctity, never did."
"The Pope writes to the Irish church"
It wasn't just the Pope who dropped the ball: Though the Catholic Church has long shown a shameful lack of accountability, says Joan Vennochi in the Boston Globe, the "biggest sin of all" may come from the legal system which has consistently failed to prosecute guilty priests for their abuse of children. After all, "the church can allow history to repeat itself as long as the secular world lets it."
"Abuse cover-up must have consequences"
SEE PREVIOUS OPINION BRIEFS ON THIS TOPIC:
• Should the Pope resign?
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The mystery behind China's aggressive push into space
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- The best places to find love — and lust — according to science
- Here's the schedule very successful people follow every day
- Sex can't explain the culture war
- Why GOP reformers are bound to fail
- The 5 best and worst states for a well-lived life
- How the battle for religious freedom became a nonsensical free-for-all
- How a drafting error could doom Obama's carbon regulations
- The 6 best low-cost smartphones
Subscribe to the Week