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Vatican official defends Pope Benedict in sex abuse scandal
February 6th, 2012
08:29 PM ET

Vatican official defends Pope Benedict in sex abuse scandal

By CNN Wire Staff

(CNN) – A top Roman Catholic official opened a conference on protecting children from sexual abuse Monday by defending Pope Benedict XVI, arguing that he deserved thanks for his efforts.

Cardinal William Levada said Benedict, before becoming pope, enacted many of the reforms that followed the eruption of the church's sex-abuse scandal a decade ago.

"But the pope has had to suffer attacks by the media over these past years in various parts of the world, when he should receive the gratitude of us all, in the church and outside it," Levada said in his opening address to the conference.

Levada leads the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office charged with enforcing church law. Benedict held the same post before he became pope in 2005.

During that period, the office was charged with cleaning up after the revelations that church officials protected priests who were accused of molesting young parishioners, particularly in the United States and Europe. The scandal has led to criminal charges and expensive legal judgments in cases that are still working their way through the courts.

This week's event at Gregorian University in Rome features the launch of a three-year program aimed at setting up "robust procedures" to handle allegations of abuse, according to organizers. But a U.S.-based victims' group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, dismissed the event as "window dressing" on Monday.

"Who will be leading the discussion? The very same 'experts' and church officials who bear responsibility for the continued global cover-up of clergy child sex crimes," the group said on its website. The group included Levada, the former archbishop of San Francisco, as one of those officials.

Levada said more than 4,000 cases of sexual abuse had been reported to his office in the past decade, revealing the need for "a truly multifaceted response." He reaffirmed that church leaders have "an obligation to cooperate with the requirements of civil law regarding the reporting of such crimes to the appropriate authorities," but added that the offenders "are a tiny minority of an otherwise faithful, committed clergy."

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Benedict XVI • Sex • Sex abuse • Vatican

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soundoff (87 Responses)
  1. Souvik

    since I was last on. I would like to try to aenswr the questions directed at me, and offer some further observations. But first, I want to offer my deepest and very sincere apologies to those that feel they were abused by God?s church. You are absolutely correct that this should have never happened. It is wrong. I am very sorry that it happened to you. I need to tell you that I too have had to deal with abuse/ wrong behavior in the church. I have been through a church split, had a group of people try to get rid of myself and the senior pastor (I was the youth pastor at that time), and later had an associate of my own that stabbed me in the back and tried to turn the people of the church against us after having been their longest term pastor. I know what it feels like, but I don?t leave. I might choose to attend a different local church, but as has been pointed out there are many churches that aren?t like that. Leaving the church because someone misused their authority, or emotionally abused us (physical abuse is a whole different issue) is a ridiculous aenswr. If that were the aenswr then we should pull all of our kids out of school, because there have been school officials who have abused. There have been police officers and political leaders that have abused, so we should all leave the USA. Children have been abused in their own families, perhaps we should pull all kids out of families. And for that matter David has already said that the cruelest thing ever said to him was in this conversation, maybe we should all pull out of blog conversations. (If this was truly the cruelest thing ever said to him, then it must have been something really minor that drove him from the church.) You may think my illustrations here to be ridiculous, but that is the same way I think about leaving God?s church, because of other people. The church certainly isn?t perfect, but then neither are those who aren?t a part of it. ?Let he who is without sin cast the first stone?.David, you said my last post was very ?Predictable?. OK, so what is wrong with that? I have never seen anywhere that predictable was bad or wrong. Maybe it was predictable, because after all your years of pastoring, you know it is right. But I do need to correct you. You said that I said you couldn?t rock the boat now. That?s not what I said. Go ahead and attempt to rock all you want, I said it would be ineffective from the outside. (Several others have pointed this out.) Being a sports commentator is not a valid comparison. Those people are still on the inside, but unless they are actually one of the coaches, they will have little or no impact. For instance, David, you have been doing this blog for awhile now, what have you changed? It seems that 95% of your ?followers? are outside of the church also. What has all of this ranting changed? If it really has made a difference, why aren?t you back in the church? Is it possible that your ?graffiti? isn?t really reform driven, but driven by a desire for vengeance? David, you said you are a Christian, what happened to ?forgive as you have been forgiven?? With the exception of the former church custodian, no one has really defined what they mean by abused. They talk about what preachers said. Was it Biblical? So many want a form of Christianity that tickles their ears, and not what the Bible says. Many just don?t want to submit to the authority of the Word, and so they persecute the messenger. Let me give a personal example. I pastured a church where gossip had become a problem, and was driving people away. (You might say they felt abused by it.) So I preached hard against it, went to my board and developed a plan to deal with anyone caught in it. The first person, caught red-handed, when confronted left the church claiming we had abused her. It simply cannot be ?abuse? both ways. Otherwise it is a no-win situation. My question is which is abuse and which is legitimate exercise of spiritual authority? Which have you really endured, and/or run from? David, you say you were abused by the church, but you were the pastor. What were you doing to protect the integrity of the church, and set an atmosphere that wasn?t conducive to abuse? We know that most of the time the atmosphere in the church is determined in large part by the pastor themself. The other objection I have to what has been asserted is that this ?abuse? drove people to drink or other unhealthy habits. I cannot accept this. Even for those that were truly abused, they made their own decision as to how to respond to it. As much as the church?s behavior may have been deplorable, I am still responsible for the decisions I make. Many others went through the same thing and did not resort to unhealthy behavior. (Read Paul?s account In 2 Corinthians 11 of what he went through and stayed true.) Beyond that, I pose this thought. If all of you ?good people? leave the church, and leave it in the hands of evil abusive people aren?t you equally responsible for the evils that you see today ?he who knows the good he ought to do and doesn?t do it sins?. I wonder what a church formed by many of you would look like?I was asked if I believe church attendance is necessary. Yes, whenever reasonably possible. Read Hebrews 10:24-25. I was asked what church Jesus attended. It was the organized church of His day. (Luke 4:16). If anyone could use the copout of being abused by the church and not going it was Jesus. But He didn?t. (David, doesn?t being Christian mean, if nothing else, that we live after the pattern of the Christ?) Jesus even instructed His disciples to obey the teachings of the church leaders (Matthew 23:2). So yes, for these and many other reasons I believe that church attendance is very important. Some say they leave because it is just easier. Wow, since when is life about what is easier? That is nothing but escapism. It would have been easier for Jesus to avoid the cross. I am very glad that He didn?t choose that way. Choosing the easy way never brings about needed change.My final thought is this. It is purported that all of these posts are for the purpose of influencing change. I recently heard a definition of power that said it was the ability to bring about change and influence outcomes. It seems that is what David and others here allegedly seek. But Jesus said you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you- Acts 1:8. This power is received through a Pentecostal type experience like that that occurred in Acts 2. (Notice that that occurred when the church gathered together.) I suggest that those that are really about wanting to influence change seek the infilling of the Holy Spirit and use that power within the church to affect the desirable and necessary changes that you seek.

    March 1, 2012 at 9:26 pm |
  2. Hypatia

    Now there's a shocker! Il Papa's minions in drag think he's just great. Next season, they might get a cardinal onto Rue Paul's Drag Race or sign one up for Penn States fb coach.

    February 10, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  3. k

    Every time humanity deviated from this path, God sent down His of prophets (Noah, Ibrahim, Mosses Jesus and Mohammed were among thousands) who carried this single message to the whole humanity (And they all had the highest moral standards). That is the message of Islam.

    God speaks to the whole humanity through His book Quran..

    “Proclaim, He is the One and only GOD. The Absolute GOD. Never did He beget. Nor was He begotten. None equals Him." [112:1]

    “They even attribute to Him sons and daughters, without any knowledge. Be He glorified. He is the Most High, far above their claims.” Quran [6:100]

    “The example of Jesus, as far as GOD is concerned, is the same as that of Adam; He created him from dust, then said to him, "Be," and he was.” Quran [3:59]

    “…anyone who murders any person who had not committed murder or horrendous crimes, it shall be as if he murdered all the people. And anyone who spares a life, it shall be as if he spared the lives of all the people....." Qur'an [5:32]

    Most exalted is the One in whose hands is all kingship, and He is Omnipotent.The One who created death and life for the purpose of distinguishing those among you who would do better. Quran [67.2]

    Subsequent to them, we sent Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming the previous scripture, the Torah. We gave him the Gospel, containing guidance and light, and confirming the previous scriptures, the Torah, and augmenting its guidance and light, and to enlighten the righteous. Quran [5:46]

    O people of the scripture, do not transgress the limits of your religion, and do not say about GOD except the truth. The Messiah, Jesus, the son of Mary, was a messenger of GOD, and His word that He had sent to Mary, and a revelation from Him. Therefore, you shall believe in GOD and His messengers. You shall not say, "Trinity." You shall refrain from this for your own good. GOD is only one god. Be He glorified; He is much too glorious to have a son. To Him belongs everything in the heavens and everything on earth. GOD suffices as Lord and Master. Quran [4:171]

    Thanks for taking time to read my post. Please take a moment to clear your misconception by going to whyIslam org website.

    February 8, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Salty Bob

      What a pice of tripe, No Gods No Monsters all religion is wrong and will someday be replaced with something new and shinny.

      February 10, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Hypatia

      go peddle your fairytale somewhere else.

      February 10, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  4. Cher

    Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves...

    February 8, 2012 at 8:32 am |
  5. Reality

    Only for the newbies:

    Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity, the "bowers", kneelers" and "pew peasants" are converging these religions into some simple rules of life. No pope, koran, bible, clerics, nuns, monks, imams, evangelicals, ayatollahs, rabbis, professors of religion or priests needed or desired.

    Ditto for houses of "worthless worship" aka mosques, churches, basilicas, cathedrals, temples and synagogues.
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    February 8, 2012 at 7:54 am |
  6. Nii Croffie

    I did it! muah

    February 8, 2012 at 4:15 am |
  7. Nii Croffie

    Now where is that report abuse button when u need it?

    February 8, 2012 at 4:13 am |
    • TruthPrevails

      You're a fraud. I've seen your facebook page and when the christards on here who don't have an open-mind discover that they too can check out your facebook page by clicking on your name and discover you're bi-se.xual, they'll be having so much fun attacking you and the fact that you're from Ghana and not from America should get Captain America up in arms. I personally don't care what your se.xual orientation is but I did need to expose you for the fraud you are.

      February 8, 2012 at 4:56 am |
    • Mohamed

      Posted on Nice read, I just pseasd this onto a friend who was doing a little research on that. And he actually bought me lunch as I found it for him smile Thus let me rephrase that: Thank you for lunch! We strain to renew our capacity for wonder, to shock ourselves into astonishment once again. by Shana Alexander.

      March 2, 2012 at 5:52 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.