The pope’s spokesman has launched a vigorous counter-attack against a report linking Benedict XVI to a sex abuse cover-up while he was archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1981.
Father Federico Lombardi appeared to suggest in an interview on Vatican Radio that the pope, who also has strong links to the city of Regensburg, was the victim of a plot.
“It’s rather clear that in recent days there have been people who have searched – with notable tenacity – in Regensburg and Munich for elements to personally involve the holy father in the question of the abuses,” Lombardi said. “To any objective observer it’s clear that these attempts have failed.”
A widening child sexual abuse inquiry in Europe has landed at the doorstep of Pope Benedict XVI, as a senior church official acknowledged Friday that a German archdiocese made “serious mistakes” in handling an abuse case while the pope served as its archbishop.
The archdiocese said that a priest accused of molesting boys was given therapy in 1980 and later allowed to resume pastoral duties, before committing further abuses and being prosecuted. Pope Benedict, who at the time headed the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, approved the priest’s transfer for therapy. A subordinate took full responsibility for allowing the priest to later resume pastoral work, the archdiocese said in a statement.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said he had no comment beyond the statement by the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, which he said showed the “nonresponsibility” of the pope in the matter.
Pope Benedict XVI gave the bishops of the Irish Catholic church a public dressing down at the Vatican today over the “heinous” child abuse scandal that has capsized the church’s moral authority in Ireland….
Before the crisis meeting, the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, had called on clergy who had abused children to admit to their “abominable acts” in a scandal that threatened to sink the church in Ireland. He told the bishops: “The most dangerous storm is that which touches the heart of believers, shaking their faith and threatening their capacity to entrust themselves to God.”
Taking “nonresponsibility,” blaming direct subordinates, saying it’s all a wicked plot, telling other people to do what you won’t do yourself: I guess they don’t miss a trick over there in the 21st century Vatican.
“What is at stake, and at great risk, is Benedict’s central project for the ‘re-Christianization’ of Christendom, his desire to have Europe return to its Christian roots,” said David Gibson, the author of a biography of Benedict and a religion commentator for Politicsdaily.com. “But if the root itself is seen as rotten, then his influence will be badly compromised.”
You don’t say.