National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source


Abuse scandal painful, pope says


VATICAN CITY -- Recognizing the sins of priests who have sexually abused children, performing penance and asking for forgiveness, the Catholic Church trusts that God will purify and transform the church, Pope Benedict XVI said.

"I must say that we Christians, even in recent times, have often avoided the word 'penance,' which seemed too harsh to us. Now, under the attacks of the world that speaks to us of our sins, we see that being able to do penance is a grace," the pope said April 15 in a homily during a Mass with members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

"We see how it is necessary to do penance, that is, to recognize what is mistaken in our life," he said during the morning Mass in the Pauline Chapel of the Apostolic Palace.

Conn. bishops decry bill to lift statute of limitations

HARTFORD, Conn. (CNS) -- Connecticut's Catholic bishops are urging Catholics and others to speak out against a bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits in cases of sexual abuse.

Archbishop Henry J. Mansell of Hartford, Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport and Bishop Michael R. Cote of Norwich sent notices to all pastors April 8, requesting their help in mounting a campaign opposing a measure in the House that would make Connecticut the only state without a statute of limitations for the filing of sexual abuse claims concerning minors.

US Catholics growing more critical of pope


WASHINGTON -- A new Pew survey shows that while Catholics are still more positive than Americans in general about Pope Benedict XVI's handling of the abuse scandal, they have grown more critical of how he has addressed the issue.

In a telephone survey of 1,001 adults conducted April 1-5, more than one in 10 Americans, or 12 percent, said the pope has done an excellent or good job in handling the abuse scandal and 71 percent said he had done only a fair or poor job.

Out of all the Catholics in the survey group, 32 percent said the pope has done an excellent or good job, but 59 percent rated his handling of the scandal as fair or poor. Of Catholics who said they attend Mass weekly, 44 percent gave the pope a rating of excellent or good, while 49 percent said he was doing a fair or poor job.

U.S. survivors take stories to Europe


MUNICH, GERMANY -- When Barbara Blaine and Barbara Dorris, U.S. sex abuse survivors, showed up last month at the front gate of the archbishop’s office here, they quickly attracted eager members of the German media, still in their relative infancy in covering the scandal and wondering what to make of the women.

Blaine is president of the Saint Louis-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, and, in that capacity, has had many years’ experience working with reporters, explaining her story of abuse: child molested by a priest in Toledo, Ohio; memory of the abuse that erupted in a flashback in 1985 reading an article about abuse in the National Catholic Reporter; trauma and frustration that followed; and finally the re-empowerment that came with going public.

Vatican rebuts allegations of stalling sex abuse case


VATICAN CITY -- Vatican officials have rebutted allegations that the future Pope Benedict XVI stalled on a priestly sex abuse case in 1985, and said critics have misunderstood the fundamental church procedures in use at the time.

The Associated Press reported that then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger resisted pleas to defrock Father Stephen Kiesle, a California priest with a record of sexually molesting children. It cited a letter from Cardinal Ratzinger, who was head of the Vatican's doctrinal congregation, advising further study of the case for "the good of the universal church."

Vatican officials pointed out that Cardinal Ratzinger was responding to the priest's own request for dispensation from the vow of celibacy, and at the time had no authority to impose dismissal from the priesthood as a penalty for sex abuse.

Jeffrey Lena, a California lawyer for the Vatican, said the AP article reflected a "rush to judgment" and presumed -- incorrectly -- that Cardinal Ratzinger's office had control over clerical sex abuse cases.

More documents link Ratzinger to abuse cases


More documents have been discovered linking Pope Benedict to particular cases in the clergy sex abuse scandal, and other regions of the world are being drawn into the scandal. Meanwhile, supporters of the pope continue to defend his actions, with one calling Benedict "a coherent guide along the path of rigor and truth" and "a pastor well capable of facing -- with great rectitude and confidence -- this difficult time."



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