Irish bishops were scolded by Pope Benedict XVI Saturday over a sex abuse scandal rocking Ireland.
In a letter responding to recent allegations that thousands of Irish children were abused by priests and nuns, the pontiff said he was "truly sorry'' for the harm that was done.
He demanded abusers come forward and acknowledge their guilt and blamed Irish bishops for failing to apply the church's own law, which calls for harsh punishments for child abusers.
The pope ordered a Vatican investigation into some dioceses, seminaries and religious orders, but he did not rebuke the bishops specifically for not reporting cases of abuse to police until after victims began to sue the church.
Some Catholic churchgoers at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Midtown said Saturday that the Vatican should shoulder more blame for the widening scandal.
"I mean, I commend him for even bringing it out in the open, but I think it should have been more specific and I think they should have taken more responsibility," said one churchgoer.
"I think it's horrible. I think they should be reprimanded and do a lot more than just a slap on the wrist. More needs to be done now," said another.
The top cardinal in Ireland, who is under fire for not reporting an abuser to police, praised the pontiff's letter.
"I welcome this letter. I'm deeply grateful to the Holy Father for his profound kindness and concern," said Sean Cardinal Brady, the archbishop of Armagh. "It is evident form the pastoral letter that Pope Benedict is deeply dismayed by what he refers to as sinful and criminal acts and the way the church authorities in Ireland dealt with them."
The letter directly addressed only Ireland, but Vatican officials said it could be read as applying to other countries.
Hundreds of new allegations of abuse have recently come to light across Europe, including in the pope's homeland of Germany.
NY1 had reached out to the Archdiocese of New York, but received no comment as of Saturday evening.