Pope Benedict XVI’s official investigators at the Vatican have been inundated with claims of abuse by Catholic priests and nuns, all to be handled by a small team of 10 at the Holy See’s in-house operation. To offset some of the public discontent, the pope is writing a letter that addresses part of a scandal that’s been brewing for decades in Ireland. However, there are hundreds of other cases to be handled elsewhere in Europe as well, as Germany’s Angela Merkel pointed out Wednesday. –KA

The New York Times:

Speaking on Wednesday in English , the pope said he would sign a promised pastoral letter to Irish Catholics on Friday and send it out soon afterwards. He said the Irish church had been “severely shaken” and he was “deeply concerned.”

The Irish church has been reeling from two reports. One, released in November, accused church leaders of covering up decades of child sexual abuse by priests. Another, released in May, documents decades of widespread sexual, physical and emotional abuse of children by priests and nuns in church-run schools.

In a meeting with Irish bishops at the Vatican last month, Benedict announced that he would issue a letter addressing the issue. But as hundreds of victims of abuse have come forward in the Netherlands and in Germany in recent weeks, several high-ranking Vatican officials have said this week that they expect the letter to speak to the broader situation beyond Ireland.

Separately, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany on Wednesday called the sex abuse scandal a major challenge to German society and warned the only way to come to terms with it was “truth and clarity about everything that took place.”

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