Pope tells Irish bishops to be honest over scandal

VATICAN CITY (AP) - The Vatican says the pope is urging Irish bishops to be honest and courageous in handling the clergy sex abuse scandals.

Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said that resignations of bishops weren't discussed at a summit on the crisis. Two days of special talks between Pope Benedict XVI andthe bishops ended on Tuesday at the Vatican.

The Vatican also defended the pope's envoy to Ireland for refusing to testify to Irish lawmakers about decades of scandals and church coverups.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

ROME (AP) - Ireland's bishops and Pope Benedict XVI wrapped up talks Tuesday aimed at regaining the trust of Catholics shaken by revelations of clergy sex abuse and cover-up, as new anger flared over the refusal of the papal representative to Ireland to testify before lawmakers there.

A second day of an extraordinary meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and 24 diocesan bishops was held behind closed doors in the Apostolic Palace.

The Vatican has promised to comment on the crisis after the summit ends in the early afternoon, and some bishops have agreed to speak at a news conference later in the day.

The Holy See did not immediate react Tuesday to what appeared to be a new obstacle to regaining Irish Catholic confidence. Irish lawmakers denounced the refusal of Pope Benedict's diplomat in Ireland to testify to a parliamentary panel probing church cooperation with investigations into the abuse cover-up.

The papal nuncio to Ireland, Cardinal Giuseppe Leanza, who was among the summit's participants, told lawmakers in a letter published Monday he would not answer questions from the parliament's foreign affairs committee.

"I wish to inform that it is not the practice of the Holy See that apostolic nuncios appear before parliamentary commissions," he wrote in the letter dated Feb. 12.

Leanza has faced heavy criticism in Ireland for ignoring letters from two state-ordered investigations into how the church for decades suppressed reports of child abuse by parish priests and in Catholic-run residences for poor children.

The investigators said the cardinal did not reply to letters seeking the Vatican's assistance.

Irish lawmaker Alan Shatter said it was "not only deeply regrettable but incomprehensible" that Leanza would not explain the Vatican's noncooperation with Irish investigations, given that "it is acknowledged in Rome that members of the clergy in Ireland are guilty of abominable sexual abuse of children."

Benedict's top aide, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, welcomed the bishops to the Vatican on Monday with a stern call for sinners among their ranks to own up to blame in the fullness of truth.

The summit was also called to help the pontiff prepare a special letter to the Irish people apologizing for church failures to protect thousands of children.

Irish activists are demanding much more, including resignations of all bishops who failed to inform police about reports of pedophile priests. They also demand that the pope accept in full the findings of the Irish investigations, which some church officials in Ireland have criticized as unfair.

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