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"So much was expected of the pontiff, and so little was delivered," said John Kelly, leader of Survivors of Child Abuse, an Irish advocacy group. "The pope said that priests and bishops needed to surrender themselves to the demands of justice. Here were two of many who did surrender themselves -- and they've been refused," Kelly said. "That sends out a signal that there is to be no change, no closure for victims and no accountability."
Abuse survivor Marie Collins also said she was "at a loss" and "past being angry."
The church was not "going to be accountable or take responsibility." She felt "people, survivors in particular, are also entitled to an explanation as to why Bishop Moriarty's resignation was accepted but Bishop Walsh's and Bishop Field's were not."
In the United States, SNAP, or The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, chastised Benedict for "rubbing more salt into the already deep and still fresh wounds of thousands of child sex abuse victims and millions of betrayed Catholics."
Media reaction was blistering as well.
Writing in The Herald of Ireland, Terry Prone accused the Vatican of "arrogance." He said the way the news was communicated was typical of the Vatican, and said that "somewhere along the line, the officer class in the Catholic Church decided they no longer needed to explain and persuade and motivate. They could just tell the faithful. Or not tell them, as in this case."
"Latest Papal diktat spells doom for people's church" ran the headline in John Cooney's column in the Irish Independent, while Kevin Clarke, writing on the blog of America magazine, a leading Catholic weekly in the United States, searched for an explanation.
"Could the Curia [the pope's advisors] truly be so oblivious to the anger and frustration of average Catholics worldwide trying to make sense of the church's response to years of sexual abuse by clergy on Catholic children?" Clarke asked. "It doesn't seem possible."
For many, it now seems more than possible, but highly probable.
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