Pope Benedict XVI Resigns: Child Abuse Victims Claim 'Devil' Still in Catholic Church

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By Gianluca Mezzofiore | February 12, 2013 3:51 AM EST

Following Pope Benedict announcement that he will resign at the end of the month because of the effects of old age, a group that represents child abuse in Ireland said the German-born pontiff "promised a lot but delivered nothing".

John Kelly, of Irish branch of the Survivors of Child Abuse support group, told AFP that the pope "had a great opportunity to finally address the decades of abuse in the church" but "he did nothing but promise everything and in the end he ultimately delivered nothing".

Supported by conservatives for trying to reiterate traditional Catholic values, the 85-year-old piano-playing pontiff was dogged during his office by various scandals, but it was the child abuse one that tainted most of his papacy.

Pope Benedict ordered an official inquiry into abuse in Ireland following a series of revealing reports in recent years that lifted the lid on decades of child abuse at the hands of religious members. But crisis erupted at the point that Dublin closed the Vatican embassy to the Holy See in 2011.

"We asked the Pope for sanctions against the religious orders who committed the abuse and the religious leaders in Ireland who allowed this to happen but to our dismay nothing has happened," Kelly added.

Groups of victims such as the Survivors have urged to Vatican to bring to justice those priests. "The church needs to acknowledge that all of this happened. They need to acknowledge that they allowed the devil inside and had him reside there for 50 years," Kelly said.

Another member of Survivors told the Guardian that they welcomed the March 2010 pastoral letter in which the pope offered his apology to the victims of child abuse saying that the dignity of the church "had been violated". However, instead of a practical response, the victims received "pastoral platitudes and special masses offered up".

The executive director of the Survivors' Network of those abused by priests, an organisation of 12,000 members, said the outgoing pope "knows more about clergy sex crimes and cover ups than anyone else in the church" yet he has done "precious little to protect childen".

Liberal-flagging atheists and campaigners also welcomed Ratzinger's resignation. Richard Dawkins even went further with this tweet: "I feel sorry for the Pope and all old Catholic priests. Imagine having a wasted life to look back on and no sex".

Along with Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens was not a big fan of Pope Benedict. The journalist and writer, before his death, blamed Ratzinger for creating a legislation which limited reporting crimes committed by members of the church.

"Not content with shielding its own priests from the law, Ratzinger's office even wrote its own private statute of limitations," he wrote on Slate in 2010. "The church's jurisdiction, claimed Ratzinger, 'begins to run from the day when the minor has completed the 18th year of age' and then lasts for 10 more years.

"Daniel Shea, the attorney for two victims who sued Ratzinger and a church in Texas, correctly describes that latter stipulation as an obstruction of justice," he continued. "'You can't investigate a case if you never find out about it. If you can manage to keep it secret for 18 years plus 10, the priest will get away with it.'"

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