Pope 'feels shame' over Irish child abuse report

The Pope shares the "outrage, betrayal and shame" felt by the Irish people over a government report that said Church leaders covered up widespread sexual abuse of children for 30 years, the Vatican said yesterday.

In a statement after the pontiff held a meeting with Irish Catholic clergy, the Vatican also said Benedict XVI would write a pastoral letter to the Irish people about sexual abuse in Ireland and the Vatican's response to the crisis.

"The Holy Father was deeply disturbed and distressed," the statement said. "He wishes once more to express his profound regret at the actions of some members of the clergy who have betrayed their solemn promises to God, as well as the trust placed in them by the victims and their families, and by society at large".

The meeting, attended by Cardinal Sean Brady, head of the Irish Bishops Conference, and Diarmuid Martin, the Archbishop of Dublin, discussed the crisis in the Irish Church following the publication last month of the Murphy Commission Report, which said the Church had hidden child abuse and was "obsessively" concerned with secrecy.