Pope promises action on abuse

2010-04-21 15:06


Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI, who has come under fire from victims' groups for using vague language about the Roman Catholic sexual abuse crisis, on Wednesday publicly promised church "action" to counter the scandal.

In the past month since the sexual abuse crisis has exploded, with allegations mushrooming in the United States, Austria and his native Germany, he has used vague terms such as how the church was "wounded by our sins" or needed "penance".

Speaking at his general audience, he used the word "abuse" in public for the first time in more than a month, a period in which the scandal has spread extensively and developed into the greatest crisis of his five-year pontificate.

Summarising his weekend trip to Malta at his weekly general audience in St Peters' Square, Benedict said: "I wanted to meet some people who were victims of abuse by members of the clergy."

"I shared with them their suffering and with emotion I prayed with them, promising them action on the part of the church."

Victims groups had demanded the pope say something directly in public instead of using indirect reference and generalities.


A statement on Sunday in Malta after his meeting with eight abuse victims said the pope promised them the church would do "all in its power to investigate allegations, to bring to justice those responsible for abuse and to implement effective measures designed to safeguard young people in the future".

That was one of the clearest statements yet from the Vatican that it wanted local bishops to co-operate with civil authorities in prosecuting priests who abused children.

Hundreds of cases of sexual and physical abuse of youths in recent decades by priests have come to light in Europe and the United States in the last month as disclosures encourage long-silent victims to finally go public with their complaints.

Many cases date back so far that the statute of limitations has expired.

In the past month, the pope himself was accused of turning a blind eye in 1980, when he was archbishop of Munich in Germany, to the case of a priest who was sent there for therapy after sexually abusing children and soon transferred to parish work.

His deputy has taken responsibility for that decision.

Another explosive case

As Benedict marked the fifth anniversary of his pontificate on Monday, the Vatican was swept up in another potentially explosive case.

Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, a former Vatican official who congratulated a French bishop for hiding a sexually abusive priest in 2001, told a conference at the weekend in Spain he acted with the approval of the late pope John Paul.

Last week the Vatican spokesperson indirectly confirmed that a 2001 letter Castrillon Hoyos sent to the bishop posted on a French website was authentic and was proof the Vatican was right to tighten up its procedures on sex abuse cases that year.

A US victims group has demanded that the archdiocese of Washington rescind an invitation to Castrillion Hoyos to lead a Mass this weekend in the American capital to mark the start of the sixth year of Benedict's papacy.
Read more on:    pope benedict xvi  |  roman catholic church  |  child abuse

Read News24’s Comments Policy


Inside News24


3 must-do trail runs

If you love trail running, you have to put these on your bucket list.


Where were you when you last felt alive?

Climbing the world’s largest stone arch
Awesome extreme sports people
Watch: 2015 Absa Cape Epic route
Watch: Insane road bike skills!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

One day only! – 40% off Appliances!

Get 40% off 100’s of appliances at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R1000 on Hisense smartphones!

View the large range of Hisense smartphones. Buy today and save up to R1000!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25


You may prefer to be in charge because then you can call the shots. You are not as flexible as you like to make out to be and you...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.