Pope Benedict XVI used some of the strongest language yet in his apology on Saturday for the sexual abuse of children by Australia’s Roman Catholic clergy, but his words were just more of the same for the victims.
The pope said he was “deeply sorry” for the sexual abuse, delivering a strongly-worded apology that described their acts as evil and a grave betrayal of trust.
“I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured and I assure them as their pastor that I too share in their suffering,” Benedict said during an address at a Mass in Sydney.
“Those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice,” he said.
The pope said the scandal had badly damaged the church.
“These misdeeds, which constitute so grave a betrayal of trust, deserve unequivocal condemnation,” he said. “They have caused great pain, they have damaged the church’s witness.”
Anthony Foster, the father of two Australian girls who were allegedly raped by a Catholic priest, said he was disappointed that the apology repeated the church’s expressions of regret but offered no practical assistance for victims.
“What we haven’t had is an unequivocal, unlimited practical response that provides for all the victims for their lifetime,” he said. “The practical response needs to include both financial help... and psychological help.”
Support groups for victims of church abuse in Australia, whose numbers are not known but who activists say are in the thousands, say the church covered up of the scale of the problem and fought compensation claims lodged in civil courts.
“Sorry is not enough. Victims want action, not just words,” the Broken Rites group said in a post on its website.