Cardinal Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster, admitted failings in the Catholic Church in a pastoral letter released on Sunday.
“There is no hiding our mistakes and faults,” the cardinal said in the letter, that was read out in the diocese’s parishes on June 24.
“Indeed, we have learned painfully, that trying to hide major failures, especially in relation to the most vulnerable, seriously compounds the failures and betrayals that so damage our shared mission.
“Today I express my sorrow at our failings and I ask for your patience, forbearance and, indeed, forgiveness.”
The cardinal previously noted that “over the centuries a marvellous tradition has remained of genuine love for priests and a readiness to support them, through thick and thin,” and asked parishioners to pray for all priests, and in particular, six new priests to be ordained in Westminster Cathedral next Saturday.
Cardinal Nichols began the address by paying tribute to St John Southworth, an English Catholic martyr whose feast day is celebrated on June 27. St John Southworth was ordained at the English College in Douai, northern France, which celebrates its 450th anniversary this year.
“The College is a crucial part of Catholic survival and heritage, succeeded first by St Edmund’s College in Ware, Hertfordshire, and then by Allen Hall, our own diocesan seminary,” Cardinal Nichols said.
“In the months ahead, remembering Douai College and so many martyr priests, we will be striving to renew our priestly mission and purpose.”