Pope Calls Clergy Sex Abuse 'Shameful'

Pope Benedict XVI told reporters the Catholic sex scandal is almost beyond comprehension. The pontiff's remarks didn't satisfy some critics, including activist Barbara Blaine, who says she's concerned children are still at risk.

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BILL WOLFF: From NPR News in New York. This is the Bryant Park Project.

ALISON STEWART, host:

Overlooking historic Bryant Park in midtown Manhattan, live from the NPR Studios, this is the Bryant Park Project from NPR News. News, information and angry Canadians. I'm Alison Stewart.

RACHEL MARTIN, host:

I didn't think Canadians got angry. And I'm Rachel Martin. It's Wednesday, April 16th.

STEWART: They can get mad about "abut," not getting their coffee, and not getting it for free. That's coming up in the show, a detailed explanation.

MARTIN: Interesting. Also coming up on the show, you had a nice chat and got to observe a performance from this young man.

STEWART: Yeah, do you remember this song? It was everywhere about five or six years ago.

(Soundbite of song "The Remedy")

Mr. JASON MRAZ: (Singing) The remedy is the experience. This is a dangerous liaison, I say the comedy is that it's serious. This is a strange enough new play on words.

STEWART: The thing is, you never really know the words. You kind of (Humming Tune of song "The Remedy"). That's how I told my husband who was on the show today. It's Jason Mraz, of course. That was a platinum record for him. It sort of came out of nowhere. Nobody really expected it from this guy.

Then he had another follow up record which had a big hit, and then he just disappeared for awhile. Just got off the grid. Decided he wanted to, sort of, reclaim his life. Did a little bit of writing, and he's got a new record coming out next month. But it's interesting. He's releasing little EPs, four songs at a time, the demos and the acoustic versions of all the songs that will be on the big fat album next month.

MARTIN: A little tease, if you will.

STEWART: Yes, one came out yesterday, so he swung by the studios to explain the whole thing to us. So we'll have that interview and some live performance coming up.

MARTIN: Also, visiting dignitaries are out and about in the United States this week, of course, the Pope. He's here. First visit as the papal official of the Catholic Church. Also, the prime minister of the UK. Gordon Brown has paid a visit to America. We are going to get a preview of his visit to Wall Street and the White House.

STEWART: And of course, a somber anniversary today of the deadliest shooting in America. Thirty-two people were killed by a gunman at Virginia Tech's Blacksburg campus. Now, amid the confusion that day, the student radio station became a focal point for students looking for answers, and in some cases, comfort. Rachel will speak with one of the students who was reporting that day.

MARTIN: All of that, and we'll get the headlines in just a minute. But first... (Soundbite of music)

(Soundbite of cheering crowd)

MARTIN: That's the sound of Catholic school children greeting Pope Benedict XVI as he stepped off his plane yesterday at Andrews Air Force Base on his first visit to the U.S. as Pope.

STEWART: Today, the Pope kicks off a full five days of events with the welcoming ceremony at the White House, where he'll speak on the South Lawn, and then meet privately with President Bush. Now, he's only the second pope in history to visit the White House, and we are wagering the visit may also involve some well wishes, because today is the pontiff's 81st birthday. He was born Josef Ratzinger on April 16th, 1927, in Bavaria, to parents named Joseph and Mary. True.

MARTIN: For real? Well, before the celebrations, meetings and discussions, Pope Benedict took care of some difficult business before stepping off the plane. He addressed the clergy's sexual abuse scandals of recent years. On the flight over, he told reporters on the plane that, to him, it's almost beyond comprehension.

(Soundbite of interview)

POPE BENEDICT XVI: It's difficult for me to understand how it was possible the priests betrayed in this way. It's their mission to give healing, to give love of the God to these children.

STEWART: And in the end, the Pope said the entire incident is shameful.

(Soundbite of interview)

POPE BENEDICT XVI: We are deeply ashamed and we will do all is possible so this cannot happen in the future.

STEWART: But those remarks were not enough to satisfy some American Catholics. Barbara Blaine, president of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, says she is concerned that some children are still at risk, and she says she has a message for the pontiff.

(Soundbite of press conference)

Ms. BARBARA BLAINE (President, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests): If we did have the chance to speak to the Holy Father, what we would want to tell him is that we are looking for action, not words.

MARTIN: Now, the Pope will be here through Sunday night with Masses scheduled for two baseball stadiums and visits with other religious leaders, including a rabbi who survived the Holocaust. And we want to arm you with some talking points, in case conversation at your office or pub turns to the papal visit.

STEWART: All right. For the record, he is to be referred to as Pope Benedict XVI, Benedict, the Pope or the pontiff. That's it. His office is referred to as the papacy or the pontificate. That means if you express opinions or judgments about the Pope's office in a dogmatic way, you are pontificating about the pontificate.

MARTIN: In 2007, Pope Benedict joined Jay-Z...

STEWART: What?

MARTIN: Yeah! David Beckham and Barack Obama on Esquire's list of best-dressed men in the world. The magazine also named him accessorizer of the year, which should really come as no surprise, since he brought back what's called the "mantum." That's that long cape that had been kind of eschewed by recent popes.

STEWART: Of course, there is also the shorter cape that reaches just to the elbows. It's called the mozzetta. The Pope has three versions, red satin for summer, red velvet for winter, and white for Easter time.

MARTIN: Vatican radio gave the pontiff an iPod Nano in 2006 for the station's 75th birthday.

STEWART: You know, we could go on with this Pope trivia for a long time, but instead, we will post a whole bunch of fun facts on our blog. Go to npr.org/bryantpark. Now, let's get to some more of today's headlines.

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