PADDY AGNEW in Rome
Pope Benedict XVI is expected to sign off today on a pastoral letter to the Irish faithful addressing the question of clerical sex abuse.
The Holy See confirmed yesterday that the letter will be released tomorrow.
Speaking at his weekly public audience on Wednesday, the pope had announced that he would formally “sign off” on the letter today, adding that it would be released “soon after”.
A brief Vatican statement yesterday said the pope’s senior spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, will present the letter to the world’s media tomorrow.
It is not known if, and to what extent, the current sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church in the pope’s native Germany will impinge on a document which was originally intended exclusively for the Irish faithful.
It is, however, unlikely that the most recent revelations concerning the primate of the Irish church, the Archbishop of Armagh, Seán Brady, will much influence the document.
The letter will offer a Holy See reflection on a problem which in recent months has damaged the Catholic Church not only in Ireland, but also in Austria, Brazil, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands.
Vatican commentators believe that much-discussed issues such as a radical reorganisation of Irish church structures and dioceses are unlikely to feature in the pastoral letter.