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Pope: Church has not been vigilant enough on child abuse

By on Thursday, 16 September 2010

Pope Benedict is met by the Duke of Edinburgh (Andrew Milligan/ PA Wire)

Pope Benedict is met by the Duke of Edinburgh (Andrew Milligan/ PA Wire)

The Holy Father has arrived in Edinburgh for the first state visit of a pontiff to Britain.

Pope Benedict’s Alitalia Airbus 320 touched down at Edinburgh airport at 10.16 this morning, where he was greeted by the Duke of Edinburgh.

The papal plane “Shepherd 1” touched down in Britain 14 minutes ahead of schedule. Soon after 10,30am the Holy Father appeared at the top of the stairs, marking the first papal visit since John Paul II’s 1982 pastoral visit. There was no kissing of the tarmac by this pope, nor, because of the wind, was there a red carpet.

On board the papal plane the Pope told journalists that the Church “had not been vigilant enough” on the issue of paedophile priests.

The clerical child abuse revelations “were a shock to me”, he said, and the Church “should offer help to victims”, protect children and stop paedophile priests from having future contact with children.

The Pope also issued a statement saying the “Catholic Church has not been vigilant enough on paedophilia”.

Just after 11am he met the Queen at Holyrood Palace, where the Vatican and British national anthems were played in a historic moment both in Scottish and British history. After an exchange of gifts, in which the Pope presented the Queen with an eighth-century codex, and was given Hans Holbein prints in exchange, the two had a private audience.

  • David Armitage

    The Church had not been vigilant enough, said the Pope. The outsider might be forgiven for thinking that the Church hadn't been clever enough to keep things hidden. But the Pope's reported words betray a peculiar mindset, out of tune with the teaching of Vatican II, equating Church with the Holy See and hierarchies.

  • Nicholas Ranford

    David, I think you've either misunderstood or else grossly oversimplified the ecclesiology of Vatican II as it's presented in Lumen Gentium. The Church is corporate, had the Holy Father used a phrase such as “the hierarchy has not been vigilant enough” that would have betrayed a mindset at odds with the theology expressed by the council (and which as a theologian of almost unparallelled ability Joseph Ratzinger helped to shape) by allowing for a seperation of responsibility between the members of the Body of Christ. There has been the most appaling failure within the Church, as a the Church we must accept responsibility and do penance for it. There is no scope for declaring “the people” innocent amd “the clergy” guilty; Bendict is therefore absolutely correct in atating that The Church has failed in vigilance.

  • Gordon S

    Nicholas, that acceptance of our responsibility my friend must consist of much more then 'doing penance for it.' It should mean that we all must bring our church to account and demand that proper lay cleric gatherings take place all over the world looking into the continuing celibacy in the church as a likely cause of the greatest part of this sinful failure.

    Data should be compiled and the result should be dealt with, even if this means a married priesthood.

    The powerful must truly serve the people of God as we all exercise our priesthood… Gord