Addressing Sexual Abuse Again

From reporter Jacqueline Salmon:

For the third day in a row, the pope brought up the sexual-abuse crisis. This is a surprise. It had been expected that he would bring it up in his speech with the bishops yesterday, but he also discussed it on the flight over and he gave over a chunk of his Mass homily today to it. Here's what he said:

"It is in the context of this hope born of God's love and fidelity that I acknowledge the pain which the Church in America has experienced as a result of the sexual abuse of minors. No words of mine could describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse. It is important that those who have suffered be given loving pastoral attention. Nor can I adequately describe the damage that has occurred within the community of the church. Great efforts have already been made to deal honestly and fairly with this tragic situation, and to ensure that children -- whom our Lord loves so deeply and who are our greatest treasure - -can grow up in a safe environment. These efforts to protect children must continue."

By editors |  April 17, 2008; 10:47 AM ET
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This is simply a preemptive strike. This way he can't be accused of NOT bringing it up. But what exactly does he SAY? He actually says as little as possible, worded as broadly as possible. If you were unfamiliar with the situation -- i.e. that pedophile priests preyed on children in their congregations, while the Catholic Church did its best to look the other way -- you would not have a real clue what he's even talking about. Which I'm sure is the point.

Posted by: Kathy | April 17, 2008 11:57 AM

He is so full of crap. This is the same man who before he became pope told American Bishops to drag out cases of abuse, so they would pass statue of limitations. If there is a hell I hope God lights a special fire for this one.

Posted by: Patrick NYC | April 17, 2008 11:59 AM

I would go so far as to say that for all that has been written about what the Pope has said about the situation, he has avoided any responsibility for his role in it.

He was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith before becoming Pope. While he actively went after liberation theologists, he issued an order ensuring the church's investigations into child sex abuse claims be carried out in secret. He led the opposition to allowing police to investigate those claims.

Posted by: cab91 | April 17, 2008 12:04 PM

Its real simple, fire Cardinal Law and sit down with those who have been abused. Show some true compassion not a sound bite.

Posted by: patpur | April 17, 2008 12:15 PM

If confession is good for the soul, then it is good Benedict is saying the words.

But it is true that as cardinal he claimed the Church should have total and secret jurisdiction over these allegations, which are in fact crimes against the states of the United States, subject to investigation and prosecution by our authorities. It is attitudes like this that give grounds to the suspicion of the Catholic Church as a fifth column.

It is my fondest hope that some intelligent US Attorney will bring a RICO -racketeering case - against the Church here for running a pedophile ring, and put some bishops and cardinals in jail.

The law asks for the least of what can be expected of man, religion should require the most. Perhaps between them, they can wipe the Church clean.

Still in all, progress. He now realizes what a stumbling-block this is to the American Catholic, and now no Catholic here can persist in denying the allegations are true.

Posted by: Catherine | April 17, 2008 1:21 PM

PS, Benedict should have made an especial point not to be seen with Cardinal George, who in the last couple of years put into post a priest who had actually been arrested for child abuse. He claimed this was OK since the charges had not been yet proven! This man went on to molest more children and is now in jail.

Posted by: Catherine | April 17, 2008 1:23 PM

The Catholic church is a corrupt institution. I find it hard to understand why so many Americans are still "faithful." God help America!

Posted by: Denise | April 17, 2008 2:06 PM

It is very difficult for me to see a leader of a major religion play down the a clergyman's personal responsibility in these abuse cases. What a cop out. If enough people call him on this, maybe he'll change his tune. Unless he's part of the problem, and then we're stuck with grand statements, empty gestures, and a Pope who will quickly lose the confidence of the people.

Posted by: Durkin | April 17, 2008 2:11 PM

What cynical comments I've just read! What else could Benedict have said? For the previous commentators, he is damned if he does and he's damned if he doesn't. The Catholic bishops are really trying to right the wrongs that have been done; but cynics simply cannot or will not believe it. And what of the great majority of priests who have been, and are faithful to their mission? Are the cynics saying that there are no genuinely good priests? For them, I'm sorry to announce to the nay-sayers that the Catholic Church will continue to live, and in a more purified condition!

Posted by: Joseph | April 17, 2008 2:39 PM

"Is it consistent to profess our beliefs in church on Sunday and then during the week to promote business practices or medical procedures contrary to those beliefs?"
Tell me your Popeness, is it consistent to break the law and hide those who do? Is it consistent to bankrupt your church with $2 Billion dollars of payoffs from church collections? Shame on you and all those who go and bow at your feet.

Posted by: Ex-Catholic | April 17, 2008 2:43 PM

This is not addressing it. He's providing preemptive sound bites to seem compassionate.

Posted by: tired of the traffic | April 17, 2008 2:58 PM

I would like to see him removing the mitres of the bishops who enabled the abuse. That would tell me how serious he is.

Posted by: Karen | April 17, 2008 3:38 PM

He seems to be saying that abuse happens mainly America. I don't think so.

Posted by: who the heck does he think he is?? | April 17, 2008 4:07 PM

What else could he have said? He could say, "Yes, in the early 1990's I am the man who signed the memo enjoining secrecy on cases of sexual molestation related to the confessional context. Now I am seeing that this was misinterpreted as secrecy regarding every allegation of sexual abuse. I have therefore personal responsibility for the situation as it has played out because I did not clarify."

Posted by: Molly | April 17, 2008 4:28 PM

It is really wonderful to see the Pope verbalizing the angst of so many in the Church. The Church has done a complete turn around from the policies of moving abusive priests from place to place. This Pope has done an outstanding job of bringing healing to the victims and the Church.

Posted by: James | April 17, 2008 5:11 PM

There will always be comments here and there and people usually remember the negative events.While he might have written the circular regarding secrecy of the investigation;he is NOW CORRECTING THE ERROR...rather than rationalizing about it.This known as CONVERSION OR CHANGEOF HEART AND MENTALITY.iCOMPLETELY ADMIRE HIM FOR HIS HUMILITY to acknowledge the sin committedby the concerned clergy.GIVE HIM A CHANCE TO HEAL...meanwhile instead of judjing him...OFFER PRAYERS FOR THE WORLD'S HEALING AND PEACE.

Posted by: alrose | April 17, 2008 7:43 PM

in italy a priest has been sentenced to 7 1/5 years in prison for raping a 9 years old girl.

No newspaper in Italy ever reported or mentioned any of the child abuse in USA or in Canada. That is because the Vatican is a strong political actor in the country and has strings all over the economy and the policy of the italian state.

Please don't be fouled by this King
he is naked
and horrible to any european
that got to know him closely

cheers from EU

Posted by: gianluca_b | April 17, 2008 7:49 PM

CONGRATULATIONS! Anti-Catholicism is still alive and well in the United States of America! Why do non-Catholics want to involve themselves in an issue which has to be resolved by American Catholics ALONE? If the Catholics of America involved themselves in issues involving other religions or other Christian denominations such as the the Baptist, Lutheran, Anglican, Presbyterian or other Christian denominations, we would be told to mind our own business, We do! If you aren't a Catholic, mind your own business!

Posted by: Richard | April 17, 2008 9:12 PM

Pedophile priests have broken the law, broken their vows, and broken faith with Catholics who were told not to sin by these same sinful priests. No, they're not all sex abusers, but those in authority who enabled the abuse to continue are just as guilty, as are the Catholic "faithful" who believed the priests but not the children. The very structure and theology of Catholicism, with its insistence on celibacy and an all-male priesthood, are also to blame. Christ never intended priests to be clones of him. They say a woman cannot have a "true vocation," but a woman's vocation could not possibly be less genuine than that of a sexually-abusive male priest.
Yes, the Catholic Church "will continue to live," because there will always be enough Catholics of blind faith who can't see that the crimes of the priests are rooted deep within the Church itself. Like many Catholics, I'm against abortion, but the Church claims to protect the lives of "innocent unborn children" by opposing abortion, while showing little concern for the destroyed lives of innocent LIVING children who've been abused by priests they trusted.

Posted by: Another ex-Catholic | April 18, 2008 12:56 AM

How can we really believe the hierarchy ? They(the church) continues to spend millions on supressing the documents that tell the truth and do nothing about the cardinals and bishops that are as guilty as the the predatators. The church needs to practice what they preach. It's understood that lying to protect the image is OK. It's not and they know it in their hearts and souls. The Holy Spirit is sorely needed here. Pray ,that in our lifetime , the church will turn around.

Posted by: Patricia Powers | April 18, 2008 9:39 AM

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