Campaigners One in Four slammed the letter for failing to suggest a new vision of leadership for the Catholic Church.
"Victims were hoping for an acknowledgement of the scurrilous ways in which they have been treated as they attempted to bring their experiences of abuse to the attention of the church authorities," the group's director Maeve Lewis said.
"Pope Benedict has passed up a glorious opportunity to address the core issue in the clerical sexual abuse scandal: the deliberate policy of the Catholic Church at the highest levels to protect sex offenders, thereby endangering children."
Ms Lewis accused the Pope of skimming over the Vatican's role in clerical abuse failings.
"If the Church cannot acknowledge this fundamental truth, it is still in denial," she added.
Andrew Madden - who in 1995 became the first person in Ireland to go public with an abuse lawsuit against the church - said he didn't need to be told clerical sex abuse was a crime and a sin.
"The apology today is not for the cover-up, it's for the abuse and for the most part they didn't commit the abuse but they caused some because of the cover-up," he added. "That's the bit they should say sorry for."
Fair. Balanced. American.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
"What about the coverup?"