preacher urges day of repentance for sexual abuse
A report by Associated Press (1)
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By Associated Press
December 16, 2006 at 1:43 a.m.
VATICAN CITY – Pope
Benedict XVI’s personal priest asked the pontiff Friday to declare a
day of fasting and penance to express the Roman Catholic Church’s
solidarity with the victims of clerical sex abuse.
In a strongly
worded lecture, the Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa denounced the
“abominations” committed inside the church “by its own ministers and
pastors” and declared that the church has “paid a high price for this.”
“The moment has
come, after the emergency, to do the most important thing of all: to
cry before God,” said Cantalamessa, in a pre-Christmas talk delivered
in a Vatican chapel. The pope was in the audience.
The Vatican said it had no immediate comment on the speech, which
Cantalamessa sent to some Vatican reporters.
suggested that the church “indicate a day of fasting and penance, at
local and national level, where the problem was particularly strong, to
publicly express repentance before God and solidarity with the victims.”
He also took a swipe at ostensibly penitent clergy who, he said, were
“seeking to profit from the sensation, even profiting from their own
sins, releasing interviews, writing memoirs in an attempt to throw the
blame on their superiors and the religious community.”
An advocacy group for victims of sexual abuse by clergy said the church
should do more than call for penance and fasting.
action protects kids, not nice gestures,” Barbara Blaine, national
president of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said in
a statement. “We’d much rather the pope discipline complicit bishops
instead, because that’s what is just, appropriate and effective.”
that hundreds of bishops have covered up thousands of sex crimes.
Mary Pat Fox,
president of Voice of the Faithful, a lay U.S. Catholic reform group
created in response to the molestation scandal, said the comments were
a hopeful sign that Vatican leaders were beginning to understand the
depth of the crisis. However, Fox said church officials should go
further by punishing bishops who sheltered guilty clergy.
“We need justice and accountability,” Fox said.
Although Benedict’s reaction was not immediately known, the pontiff
recently said the church must urgently rebuild confidence and trust
damaged by clerical sex abuse.
He told Irish bishops in October that “the wounds caused by such acts
run deep.” Roman Catholic Churches in both Ireland and the United
States have been hard hit by the scandal.
The speech marked the pope’s first explicit comments on the subject
since he became pontiff.
In March 2005, Benedict, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, denounced what
he called “filth” in the church “even among those … in the priesthood.”
Those words were seen by many as a possible denunciation of the clergy
sexual abuse scandals.
Associated Press writer Daniela
Petroff in Rome and AP religion writer Rachel Zoll in New York
contributed to this report.
The M+G+R Foundation
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