Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Catholic Church: The Children

There's been much about the abuse of children in the Catholic Church by priests in the news lately, from, to the

It is a sin.

It is wrong.

From the

His comments, rare for an official in the famously reticent Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, were part of a broader Vatican defense against a rising abuse scandal in Germany, including a case that happened on the watch of Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. Over the weekend, Monsignor Scicluna told L’Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian Bishops Conference, that his office had examined 3,000 abuse cases in the past decade, most of them from the United States.

The ratio of 10 people handling 300 cases a year did not go over well in some quarters. “It seems like an extraordinarily paltry effort, given the scope of the crisis,” said David Clohessy, the national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests.

In a rare interview, by telephone on Tuesday, Monsignor Scicluna acknowledged the concern. Asked if he wanted reinforcements, he said with a laugh: “I would hope we have less work. That’s my hope. Not more people, less work.”

He added that if the number of cases averaged 300 a year, “We can continue doing our job well with 10 people. The problem is: Are these numbers going to settle?”

A decade after the Roman Catholic Church in the United States was shaken by revelations of widespread sexual abuse of minors by priests, a similar phenomenon is sweeping Germany.

This week, the German church suspended a priest who had been allowed to work with children for decades after a court convicted him of molesting boys. In 1980, Archbishop Ratzinger allowed the priest to move to Munich for therapy after allegations of abuse.

Although last week the auxiliary bishop who approved the priest’s return to pastoral work stepped down, some have raised questions about Benedict’s responsibility in the matter.

“It depends what you mean by responsible,” Monsignor Scicluna said. “If he was involved in the decision, he would be. If he was not involved, it’s a responsibility that comes from his office, a ‘the buck stops here’ sort of thing.’ But I think that the person concerned has already taken responsibility for what he did; the answer to that question has already been given.”

Despite the small number of people in the Vatican working on such cases, he stressed that his office was the last step in a long process for the cases, after they have been investigated by “hundreds of canon lawyers” in dioceses worldwide.

It is wrong.

It is a sin.



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