Page last updated at 09:33 GMT, Friday, 2 April 2010 10:33 UK

Cardinal to apologise for abuse by Catholic priests


Cardinal apologises to abuse victims

The leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland is to say sorry to the victims of sexual abuse by priests in his Easter Sunday address, it has emerged.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien will apologise to those who have suffered any abuse by representatives of the church.

He will say Catholics are "demoralised and confused" by the "many evils" perpetrated by paedophile priests.

The Church has been accused of covering up and "turning a blind eye" to allegations of child abuse by priests.

In his Easter Sunday homily at St Mary's Cathedral in Edinburgh, the cardinal will speak of the "shame" the abuse scandal has brought to the members of the Church.

Victims have come forward in Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany and the United States.

Last month, the Pope sent a letter to Ireland to apologise after 16 years of clerical cover-ups.

The past weeks and months have not been easy for any one of us - and I share with you the shame of so many others in our Church near at home and far afield
Cardinal Keith O'Brien

Pope Benedict has also faced calls to resign after being accused of failing to act over complaints about American priest Father Lawrence Murphy during the 1990s.

Cardinal O'Brien, who first apologised for the scandal in 2002, will say the actions of those who failed to report the abuse "brings shame on us all".

"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," he will tell his congregation.

"We can take no comfort from the fact that only a small percentage of priests committed such crimes - the impact of their sinful acts is very large - their actions, harmed the lives of their victims, caused great hatred to be directed at their innocent brother priests and left ordinary Catholics demoralised and confused.

"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."

'Human frailty'

He said those involved in the crimes must seek forgiveness "from those who have been offended", as well as from God.

The cardinal will tell the Mass: "We have become more aware of the failures of some members of our Church whether bishops and priests, religious or lay people and indeed Pope Benedict XVI in a recent letter indicates how he is aware of the human frailty of us all.

"The past weeks and months have not been easy for any one of us - and I share with you the shame of so many others in our Church near at home and far afield."

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