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At the end of a two-day summit meeting with Irish bishops about the scandal of sexual abuse in Ireland, the Vatican said in a statement on Feb. 16 that “errors of judgment and omissions” were at the heart of the crisis. It said church leaders recognized the sense of “pain and anger, betrayal, scandal and shame” that those errors have provoked among many Irish Catholics. “All those present recognized that this grave crisis has led to a breakdown in trust in the church’s leadership and has damaged her witness to the Gospel and its moral teaching,” the statement said. Pope Benedict XVI said sexual abuse by priests was a “heinous crime” and a grave sin “that offends God and wounds the dignity of the human person created in his image,” and he urged Irish bishops to act courageously to repair their failures to deal properly with such cases. The pope convened the bishops in response to the public outrage following an independent report that faulted the church for its handling of 325 claims of sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin in the years 1975 to 2004.

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