Page last updated at 11:57 GMT, Sunday, 4 April 2010 12:57 UK

Archbishop of Canterbury sorry over abuse comments

op of Canterbury Rowan Williams
The Archbishop did not mention the crisis during his Easter sermon

The Archbishop of Canterbury has made a public apology over his comments about the child abuse crisis in the Catholic Church in Ireland.

Dr Rowan Williams had claimed the Church had lost all credibility over the scandal.

He told the BBC on Sunday that he was "sorry" for adding to the difficulties being faced by Irish bishops.

Leading Roman Catholic archbishops in the UK are using their Easter sermons to talk about clergy abuse.

The head of Ireland's Catholics, who is facing pressure to resign for his role in mishandling the case of a serial child abuser, has admitted he was "unintentionally and unknowingly" part of a cover-up culture.

Crimes against children have indeed been committed and any Catholics who were aware of such crimes and did not act to report them, brings shame on us all
Cardinal O'Brien

Speaking on Easter Sunday, Cardinal Sean Brady told the congregation at St Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh there was now "no hiding place for abusers in the Church".

Last month, the Irish Catholic primate admitted he represented the Church at meetings in 1975 where children signed vows of silence over complaints against paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth.

The global Catholic Church has been rocked by sex abuse scandals - many dating back decades - in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Austria, Germany, the US and Ireland.

Two major reports into allegations of paedophilia among Irish clergy last year revealed the extent of abuse, cover-ups and hierarchical failings.

'Need for forgiveness'

Dr Williams' comments about the controversy had angered the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin, who said he was "stunned" by them.

Dr Williams later telephoned the archbishop to express his "deep sorrow" and insist he meant no offence.

Speaking on Aled Jones' BBC Radio 2 show on Sunday, Dr Williams said he did not think he had said anything that had not already been said by others, including the leaders of the Irish Church.

"I was saying sorry that I had made life more difficult for the Archbishop of Dublin and his colleagues who have been trying to tackle this crisis with great imagination and honesty," he said.

During his Easter sermon at Canterbury Cathedral, Dr Williams did not mention the Catholic child abuse scandal.

Instead, he hit out at "wooden-headed bureaucratic silliness" which had seen some Christians stopped from wearing religious symbols at work.

'Serious sins'

Meanwhile the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, said the Church had been acknowledging its "guilt".

Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols told worshippers: "In recent weeks the serious sins committed within the Catholic community have been much talked about.

Pope Benedict XVI delivers the traditional Easter message at the Vatican on 4 April 2010
The Pope also did not mention the crisis in his traditional Easter message

"For our part, we have been reflecting on them deeply, acknowledging our guilt and our need for forgiveness."

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, head of the Church in Scotland, is due to apologise to child victims of paedophile priests.

In his homily at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh, Cardinal O'Brien is expected to say: ''Crimes against children have indeed been committed and any Catholics who were aware of such crimes and did not act to report them, brings shame on us all...

''One might say that there has been a great 'public humiliation' of the Church as in some way or another we realise that we have not been as alert as we should have been to the evils being perpetrated around us, whatever our particular position.''

Pope Benedict XVI made no mention of the abuse crisis in his traditional Easter message to thousands of people in St Peter's Square in Rome.

At the Mass a leading cardinal, Angelo Sodano, said Catholics would not be influenced by what he called the "petty gossip" of the moment.

Meanwhile, the Pope's personal preacher has apologised for comments in which he likened criticism of the Roman Catholic church over child sex abuse to the persecution of Jews.

Last month, the Pope apologised to all victims of child sex abuse by Catholic priests in Ireland.

He has also rebuked Irish bishops for "grave errors of judgement" in dealing with the problem.



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