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Pope meets with Irish churchmen after abuse report

The 2,600-page report which took nine years to compile and was resisted by Roman Catholic religious orders that ran the facilities concluded that church officials…

The 2,600-page report which took nine years to compile and was resisted by Roman Catholic religious orders that ran the facilities concluded that church officials shielded their orders’ pedophiles from arrest amid a culture of self-serving secrecy.

It was the latest damning report about the generations of abuse young people suffered at the hands of religious men and women in church or at church-run schools and facilities around the world. American dioceses have paid more than $2.6 billion in abuse-related costs since 1950. The Catholic Church in Canada has paid $79 million to native Canadians who were physically and sexually abused at church-run boarding schools they were forced to attend. Benedict has met with American, Canadian and Australian victims. He has apologized for their anguish, prayed for their healing and denounced the “filth” in the priesthood that permitted such abuse.

In 2006, Benedict told Irish bishops that the Catholic Church must urgently rebuild trust damaged by clerical sex abuse. He urged them to establish truth of what happened in the past, prevent it from recurring, ensure justice is respected and bring healing to the victims. On Thursday, the 18 religious orders implicated in the Irish report bowed to government pressure and pledged to allow external audits of their finances and to establish an entirely new compensation fund for the 14,000 victims. The groups, however, didn’t commit to any specific new financial figure. Victims’ advocates claim the orders have been using sophisticated financial shell games to hide their true net worth. They say church groups should foot half of the compensation bill, which now exceeds euro1.1 billion ($1.5 billion). In 2002, when the congregations were denying the scale of the child abuse and the investigation was just beginning, the orders negotiated a controversial deal with the government that capped the church’s contribution to victims at euro128 million ($180 million). In exchange, the government established a compensation system that required victims to surrender their rights to sue the church and state in exchange for payouts averaging euro 65,000.

AP