Page last updated at 14:10 GMT, Thursday, 1 April 2010 15:10 UK

Bishop 'sorry for church abuse'

Bishop Hegarty
Bishop Hegarty apologised at homily mass

The Bishop of Derry has apologised to all of the victims of child sex abuse by Catholic clergy.

Dr Seamus Hegarty made the remarks during his homily at Mass at St Eugene's Cathedral on Thursday.

Dr Hegarty said the abuse of children and vulnerable adults by priests and religious figures as "heinous" and a "source of great shame".

He said many priests had "not lived up to the standards and the ideals to which they were called".

Dr Hegarty said that the failure of bishops to respond appropriately to allegations of abuse had "rightly horrified" Catholics across Ireland.

"Children and young people have been scarred for life as a result of heinous crimes," he said.

Disgust

"These hidden and vile crimes are a source of great shame. They are a contradiction of priesthood."

The bishop offered the congregation an unequivocal apology for the betrayal of trust.

"The failure by bishops to respond appropriately to allegations has rightly horrified the Catholic community, the people of God in Ireland, many of whom feel anger and disgust," Dr Hegarty said.

"I feel a deep sense of shame that people have been so seriously failed and have endured so much hurt, betrayal and scandal.

"The great majority of priests have been faithful and zealous, men of integrity, men of prayer, men of great pastoral sensitivity and practice," he added.

"These faithful and good priests are tainted by the misdemeanours of those who abused."

"We cannot undo the past. Our hope and our prayer must be to invoke the wisdom and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to do what is right and good into the future," the Bishop added.

Dr Hegarty also paid tribute to the faithful of the Diocese of Derry for their "continued witness, which is an inspiration and a source of encouragement and hope to the priests and bishops who serve them".



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