Pope Stays Silent On Sex Abuse Scandals
STEVE INSKEEP, Host:
NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports on who the cardinal chose to blame for the trouble.
(SOUNDBITE OF A MUSIC)
U: (singing) Dominus nobiscum.
SYLVIA POGGIOLI: Under a large canopy protecting him from the rain, Pope Benedict celebrated Mass in Latin. In a significant departure from tradition, the dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano, opened the ritual with a stirring defense of Benedict against the international media.
C: (Through Translator) Holy Father, with you also are the people of God who are not letting themselves be upset by the petty gossip of the moment.
POGGIOLI: James Popen(ph), from the Philippines, welcomed Sodano's words.
M: For me, our pope is a saint so I don't - I can't believe - he can't do it. It's just a humor.
POGGIOLI: But Vickie Nesbitt(ph) and her mother, Beth Marshall(ph), from England, were thinking about the many victims of sex abuse, particularly in Ireland.
M: It should never have happened, particularly on the scale that it happened. It's just horrific, isn't it? But I do think that if he were to visit Ireland and make face-to-face apologies to these people and the people who've been affected, then that would make a difference.
M: A reassurance that it's got to stop, that it can't go on, you know, that it's going to be monitored from now on.
POGGIOLI: American Jesuit scholar Father Thomas Reese, says church leaders deceive themselves if they think the scandal will blow away.
F: In Europe, they're upset because they've had hundreds of victims come forward. Well, if it's anything like the United States, ultimately there are going to be thousands of victims coming forward. And I see no reason why Europe is going to be different than the United States.
POGGIOLI: Father Reese says the Vatican strategy, to blame the media as gossip mongers, is counterproductive.
F: It does no good to attack the media. It does no good to say, well, this all part of the permissive culture we live in; or, you know, this is part of, you know, the permissiveness that followed the Second Vatican Council. All that makes the church look like it's defensive, like it's downplaying the crisis. It needs to stand up, be transparent, acknowledge responsibility, ask for forgiveness, and make sure that this doesn't happen again to any children.
POGGIOLI: Italian Catholic activist Luigi Sandri says sex abuse within the church is an age-old problem. What has changed, Sandri says, is that today's society is conscious of its individual rights, and Catholics are no longer willing to bow to the church's authoritarian rule.
M: (Through Translator) You know what could be the outcome of this terrible sin, this tragedy? A third Vatican Council that will finally deal with the issue of how the church is governed and how the faithful should be allowed to choose their own bishops, not the Vatican, not the pope.
POGGIOLI: Sylvia Poggiolo, NPR News, Rome.
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