ALTHOUGH there will be satisfaction in Ireland that the Pope has personally involved himself in the response to the two reports which last year set out the extent of child abuse and the cover-up of it by the Roman Catholic Church, it is unlikely that those affected will be satisfied with anything less than a formal apology by the Pontiff. The sight of Ireland's twenty-four most senior clergy sitting at the Vatican to receive the Pope's admonition was in itself unprecedented but it is only the start of a healing process which may take a long time.

One of the reports found that there was systemic sexual, physical and emotional abuse in Catholic residential homes for children. The other set out the persistent cover-up by the Church of the proven behaviour of hundreds of priests in abusing young children; often priests found guilty of such behaviour were simply moved on to different parishes rather than punished.

Those responsible for operating a “don't ask, don't tell” culture within the Church included some of its most senior members: four Irish bishops have tendered their resignation since the reports were published last June. The Pope is expected to issue a Pastoral Letter to the faithful in Ireland after he has considered all that has been said at some sixteen hours of meetings with the bishops at the Vatican this week. but some of the victims say that will not be enough