There are numerous good posts in the blogsphere about the Pope’s pastoral letter to the Church in Ireland. There is no doubt that the Pope has yet again done something unprecedented in the modern history of the Papacy. He has also done something which the mainstream media have either not properly understood or deliberately overlooked. By initiating an Apostolic Visitation of the dioceses, seminaries and religious communities of Ireland, he has essentially shown his dissatisfaction with the response of the Irish Church to the crisis. Perhaps it is the language the mainstream media fails to understand: if we called Apostolic Visitations “Papal Inspections” or something like that, they might get the idea more clearly. At any rate it shows, as Fr. Blake notes, the failure of “localism” and the necessity of the Roman authority to intervene in the life of local churches, in this case through the Visitation and also through a Mission.
Above all, of course, Pope Benedict is concerned that the scandals will drive people away from Jesus Christ and his Church which is the source of Life. That is why all this is so important, and Jesus himself offers a terrible indictment of those priest abusers: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea.” (S. Mark 9:42).