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Eucharistic Congress: legate apologizes for clerical abuse; focus on priesthood, St. Anthony

Catholic World News - June 14, 2012

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, pontifical legate to the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, met for two hours with abuse victims during a pilgrimage to the famed St. Patrick’s Purgatory at Lough Derg.

“Pope Benedict XVI asked me, as his legate to the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, that I would 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,” he preached during a homily there. “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,” he continued. “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.

Cardinal Ouellet added:

In the name of the Church, I apologize once again to the victims, some of which I have met here in Lough Derg. I repeat here what the Holy Father told to the victims in His Letter to the Catholics of Ireland: “It is understandable that you find it hard to forgive or to be reconciled with the Church. In her name I openly express the shame and remorse that we feel. At the same time, I ask you not lose hope. It is in the communion of the Church that we encounter the person of Jesus Christ, who was himself a victim of injustice and sin.”

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” (Lk. 17:2). From the context of this International Eucharistic Congress, I reaffirm the commitment of the Catholic Church to create a safe environment for children and we pray that a new culture of respect, integrity, and Christlike love would prevail in our midst and permeate the whole society.

In Dublin, June 13—the fourth day of the Congress—was devoted to “Priesthood and Ministry in the Service of Communion.” Archbishop Dermot Clifford, the archbishop of Cashel-Emly and apostolic administrator of Cloyne, preached during Morning Prayer, while Archbishop J. Michael Miller delivered a lengthy catechesis on “priests as men of communion,” discussing the relationship between the ministerial priesthood and the common priesthood and how priests can foster communion and serve the laity in living their vocation.

Following two reflections—one by retired teacher Noreen Carroll on the gift of the priesthood, the other by Sister Conchita McDonnell on consecrated life—Cardinal Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras preached the homily at the principal Mass. “The life of Anthony of Padua, so rich in supernatural gifts and in extraordinary happenings, was founded on a radical Eucharistic piety,” the cardinal said as he recalled the teaching and miracles of the saint on his feast day.

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