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. PrimeNumber

    You can always tell which bloggers are on the outside looking in. I've posted this before but here goes again: I grew up near a Benedictine monastery. For years as a kid , I was alone with priests in sacristies, cars, swimming pools, houses, classrooms, you name it. NOT ONCE was I ever so much as touched by any of these devoted priests. There have been priest pedophiles, yes. But there's an old saw, " All I know is what I read in the papers." Most of the bloggers here feel qualified to pontificate against the church based on what they've read in the papers.

    February 7, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • chief

      oh stop it.... there have been over 10,000 cases in the US, the catholic church had paid out over 3 BILLION in out of court settlements ... even in this article, even the popes boy Levada says there have been over 4000 cases brought to them in the past decade...... dont assume who the readers are.... my name is on windows of 3 catholic churches.....

      February 7, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • Epic Logic Fail

      So because not every single Catholic kid was abused or witnessed abuse, then it's not that big a deal? Catholics who minimize this issue make me sick.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  2. GodIsTheWay

    The main issue with the Roman church is their complete inability to let go of their power mongering. If they would admit they were wrong, rename their pope to the Bishop of Rome, which is what he is supposed to be, and rejoin the Orthodox, then perhaps the Roman church wouldn't continually be under attack.

    February 7, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • chief

      they are under sttack because they have allowed kids lives to be destroyed and systematically moved the guilty around to hide and deny it all.... and in the mean time, the catholic strong support the church that lets this happen..... they are accomplices...

      February 7, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
    • gerald

      I see our resident expert and judge on child abuse, chief has entered the conversation parroting like a worn out record his same old words that take little thinking and don't really engage in the topic at hand but just spout the same old rhetoric. Good to see you chief buddy. Now I suppose I am going to be accused of being a priest again since that is all he can seem to come back with.

      ALL Catholic priests are moved around. Only a small percentage were child abusers. So it is no surprise that some of those that ended up being child molesters were moved around. In most cases I am quite sure it was not because it was known that they were abusing someone. Now, here goes the next logical leap I will be accused of defending abusers somehow by what I have said.

      February 7, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
    • J.W

      Except I think there were cases where the Bishop admitted to knowing of the abuse, and still moved them without saying anything.

      February 7, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • gerald

      J.W. I agree there were some of those cases. I didn't intend to say there were none. My point is that there is too much made of this "the priests were moved around" smoking gun without consideration to normal priestly activity.

      February 7, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
    • chief

      well it looks like our resident priest and defender of pedafiles gerald is in the house, i guess that better than..... well once again he is here to make priestly attempt to divert the issue away from what it is...... there are ped priests, the church has known about it, the people support the church in spite of it all.... and they are complicit in the crime....

      February 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
    • chief

      hey gerald... you say "too much made of this "the priests were moved around" smoking gun without consideration to normal priestly activity." ..... i say this "not enough made of priests were moved around considering there are kids involved while people turn a blind eye"

      February 7, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • GodIsTheWay

      @Chief: While I am a parent myself, and I am not Roman Church, I will say that the church has significantly cleaned up it's act. Personally, I think the problem comes in where priests are forbidden to marry. In the Orthodox, where the Roman Church SHOULD be, priests can marry. My priest is. However, I hope you hate Penn State as much as you do Rome. Otherwise, you're a hypocrite.

      @Gerald: This is true, priests are usually rotated, especially if they are being considered for movement into the Archdiocese office for a specific area. I liken it to corporate promotion: you get put into a new department, so you can gain a more quality role in the company overall by knowing more about the area.

      @JW: Which Bishop was that?

      @Chief: Drop the ad hominem attacks. They only make you look bad.

      February 7, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
    • chief

      my posts are being dropped

      February 7, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • chief

      re godistheway..... wrong on the priest marrying thing.... peds are peds.... i agree they should marry but the real problem is the church turning a blind eye on the whole problem...... my ad hominim attacks... im tired of the apologists .... im sure the jew told Jesus he looked bad when he made a whip of cords and drove the moneychangers out of the temple.... and gerald is a pathetic sympathizer for the priests. try looking something up about it all, you look bad

      February 7, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
    • J.W

      Well I don't remember the name. But there was a priest in CA I believe that was caught and they moved him to Mexico. There was article on here about it a while back.

      February 7, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
    • chief

      re godistheway .... google this Vianney Renewal Center in Dittmer, Mo.

      February 7, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
    • gerald

      Chief, it has been said that those who rant the most about a crime have comitted it themselves. Well, have you?

      Maybe that's why your in jail?

      February 7, 2012 at 6:13 pm |
    • chief

      re gerald ... HA HA "it has been said" ... wow what a retort.... its been said that if someone defends peds, they are just as guilty as the ped is of the crime..... i agree

      February 8, 2012 at 8:25 am |
    • don't feed the troll

      @gerald is a pedophile enabler. Pay no attention to him.

      February 8, 2012 at 9:17 am |
    • gerald

      chief the coward who hides behind keyboards and speaks big about protecting children but really doesn't care about them speak again. Oh such wisdom.

      February 8, 2012 at 1:50 pm |
    • chief

      it looks like your IP address is from Vianney Renewal Center in Dittmer, Missouri ........... i wouldnt doubted ..... calling me a coward for telling the truth is like saying that you arent a priest

      February 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
  3. KeninTexas

    "A top Roman Catholic official opened a conference on protecting children from se xual abuse Monday by defending Pope Benedict XVI, arguing that he deserved thanks for his efforts." This true that he has done so much to help in this crisis and deserves our thanks instead of so many trying to drag him idown nto the mud with the criminals.

    February 7, 2012 at 1:11 pm |
    • chief

      read the last paragraph...... its kinda like saying... "we still have a problem" ... im not thinking old lady pa pa is up for the nobel peace prize unless they are giving them out for destroying kids lives.....

      February 7, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
    • gerald

      Chief, I'm still trying to figure out if your in grade school or prison.

      February 7, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • chief

      im still trying to figure out if your a priest and defends them because of that or if your something much worse.....

      February 7, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
    • chief

      re gerald..... its kinda funny you want to know if i am a kid or a prisoner...... HA HA you need help ... if i were a kid i would tell you, if i were a prisoner, i'd know you when you got caught..... loser

      February 8, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  4. chief

    the pope isnt the only guilty one.... anyone who has known is guilty and so are all the catholics that defend the ped preists, they are accomplices.... they care more about an organization headed by some old lady pa pa in a dress than they care about the souls of kids

    February 7, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • gerald

      Easy to feel big about yourself and superior isn't it cheify. "IM AGAINST CHILD MOLESTERS". Wow Cheif your bold. Have you given a nickel to help victims of abuse? Do you do anything but rant on message boards about Catholic peds while ignoring the millions of others who are coaches and teachers and policemen who are peds? nope. You don't.

      February 7, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
    • chief

      re gerald the ped defender...... it doesnt matter if i do alot or nothing.... these are so called men of God that molest kids..... and its people like you that are enablers by your defense of them

      February 7, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
    • gerald

      Chief, it has been said that those who rant the most about a crime have comitted it themselves. Well, have you?

      February 7, 2012 at 6:12 pm |
    • chief

      re gerald ... its been said, the pope and a lawyer are on a ship thats sinking, the captain says, make way for the women and children to get off the boat, the lawyer says, screw the kids...... the pope say, you think we have time'?

      February 8, 2012 at 8:26 am |
    • gerald

      Chief did you come up with that one all by yourself. Man I'll bet God will be proud of your whit when you meet him. Shows what kind of a perve you are.

      February 8, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
    • God

      Trust, me, gerald, I'm also not very proud of people who defend pedophiles or those that seek to minimize crimes made against the least of my people. As of now, you've god a one way ticket going downward. I'd advise stocking up on sunblock.

      February 8, 2012 at 1:54 pm |
    • chief

      re gerald the ped protector........ perhaps my whit stings, and i say what i say without apology..... at least God wont ask me why i defend pedaphiles and commit idol worship and all the other pagan garbage you do....

      February 8, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  5. Prior

    "Those who reject the path to enlightenment, must be destroyed."

    "Hallowed are the children of the Ori."

    February 7, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
  6. William Demuth

    I look forward to a prosecution.

    This man should hang.

    February 7, 2012 at 10:46 am |
  7. TrigWit - Americas favorite tard baby

    I always enjoyed taking communion from the Popes tastee weiner!!

    February 7, 2012 at 10:19 am |
  8. Pope John Paul the Turd

    I didnt touch them boys. They wanted to nibble on my holy rod and hump me in the holiest of holys.

    February 7, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  9. derp

    "But the pope has had to suffer attacks by the media over these past years"

    Attacks? Really?

    When some priest bends him over the alter, then as punishment for ra ping the pope, gets transferred to another parish, then and only then can that Nazi bast ard complain about being attacked.

    February 7, 2012 at 9:38 am |
    • chief

      so the pope and a lawyer are on a ship thats sinking, the captain says, make way for the women and children to get off the boat, the lawyer says, screw the kids...... the pope say, you think we have time'?

      February 7, 2012 at 10:40 am |
  10. Doc Vestibule

    1. In 1962, The Vatican relased the 'Crimen Sollicitationis', which outlined how the church is to handle accusations of se.xual impropriety against clergy.
    The stickiest point for most people is that not only was the doc.ument itself Top Secret for decades, it explictly stated that anybody involved in this type of investigation, including the accuser and potential witnesses, are sworn to secrecy regarding any and all details, upon penalty of excommunication (a fate worse than death for the devout).
    This preoccupation with secrecy significantly slowed the investigative process – the backlog of referrals to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for action against se.xually abusive priests is so large that it takes 18 months to get a reply.
    According to the John Jay report, 918 of 1872 (49%) substantiated allegations of abuse against Catholic clergy were addressed by sending the priest off for psychiatric counseling and then moving him to another parish, with nary a whisper to law enforcement. This number does not include priests relocated for reasons other than charges of se.xual impropriety.
    The Irish Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse from 2009 came to the conclusion that ""the Dublin Archdiocese's pre-occupations in dealing with cases of child se.xual abuse, at least until the mid 1990s, were the maintenance of secrecy, the avoidance of scandal, the protection of the reputation of the Church, and the preservation of its as.sets. All other considerations, including the welfare of children and justice for victims, were subordinated to these priorities."

    February 7, 2012 at 9:29 am |
    • chief

      google "club ped" ... it was the US version of justice

      February 7, 2012 at 9:33 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      I think that might be one of those things that I sholdn't google at work.....

      February 7, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • chief

      re doc.... my bad.... google Rev. Gerald Fitzgerald and theres a good aol article.... there are many more

      February 7, 2012 at 10:55 am |
  11. chief

    nice hat and rod.... looks like lady gaga at the grammys..... and the so-called voice of Christ wears this liberace get up to look holy? maybe im wrong but i am not seeing Jesus looking like a elton john / lady gaga / liberace want-a-be

    February 7, 2012 at 9:29 am |
  12. Prior

    "So it came to pass that Ver Omesh was gripped by a great famine. So Markon went to the Prophet Articus and asked to go to the forest for food. The prophet bade him be patient, for the Ori provide for all who have faith. But Markon did not believe. So the prophet drew a line in the sand and told him, 'step across and you may do as you wish.' So Markon did and left the village and feasted on wild berries.The fruit was bitter. It did not satisfy him. He longed to return to the village, but found that the line had widened to a great chasm. He called out to the Prophet in fear, but the Prophet said, 'The line has not changed; it is you who have changed. Step across if you truly believe' So Markon prayed for forgiveness and took the first step and the hands of the Ori enveloped all those who welcomed him back."

    "Hallowed are the children of the Ori."

    February 7, 2012 at 9:21 am |
  13. Reality

    Dear Benedict,

    The Apostles' Creed 2011: (updated by yours truly based on the studies of NT historians and theologians of the past 200 years)

    Should I believe in a god whose existence cannot be proven
    and said god if he/she/it exists resides in an unproven,
    human-created, spirit state of bliss called heaven?????

    I believe there was a 1st century CE, Jewish, simple,
    preacher-man who was conceived by a Jewish carpenter
    named Joseph living in Nazareth and born of a young Jewish
    girl named Mary. (Some say he was a mamzer.)

    Jesus was summarily crucified for being a temple rabble-rouser by
    the Roman troops in Jerusalem serving under Pontius Pilate,

    He was buried in an unmarked grave and still lies
    a-mouldering in the ground somewhere outside of

    Said Jesus' story was embellished and "mythicized" by
    many semi-fiction writers. A bodily resurrection and
    ascension stories were promulgated to compete with the
    Caesar myths. Said stories were so popular that they
    grew into a religion known today as Catholicism/Christianity
    and featuring dark-age, daily wine to blood and bread to body rituals
    called the eucharistic sacrifice of the non-atoning Jesus.

    (References used are available upon request.)

    February 7, 2012 at 8:25 am |
  14. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    February 7, 2012 at 6:26 am |
    • Nope

      `~~~The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs.~~"

      February 7, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Sports Fan

      Prayer didn't help that cheatin' Fred Lorz who finished first in the marathon in the Summer Olympics of 1904. Just before he was about to be handed the gold medal, it was discovered that a car drove him 11 miles of the race!

      February 7, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
    • just wondering

      What was freds prayer? You bring a whole new dimension to the term ass hole

      February 7, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      Well I can only assume he was praying he didin't get caught! lol, but the reminds me, prayer didn't help the Bucks when the Dallas Mavericks selected Robert Traylor sixth overall in the 1998 NBA Draft and traded him to the Milwaukie Bucks for Dirk Nowitzki and Pat Garrity.

      Traylor averaged 5.5 points and 4.5 rebounds during a career cut short because of weight issues. Dirk went on to be a 10-time NBA All-Star and has averaged 23.0 points and 8.4 rebounds a game for his career. Oops!

      February 7, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
  15. Sports Fan

    Please pope can I suck on your tiny wrinkly pen-is!??! I want it hard up my @ss! Oh yes pope! Oh my you're even better than Joe Montana in a fumble pass on a tuesday night playoff!

    Hey Sports Fan! This is what you sound like to every educated person on this blog. End of story. Comment somewhere else or I'll make you say more rediculous things!

    February 7, 2012 at 1:59 am |
    • Sports Fan

      Why do you steal my name and write gross things? Don't you like sports?

      February 7, 2012 at 2:03 am |
    • sam

      People who don't like sports are just...not people.

      February 7, 2012 at 2:56 am |
    • Sports Fan

      Sam, I agree on the level that non-sports lovers are missing a certain passion that must be somehow misplaced....

      February 7, 2012 at 3:06 am |
    • Doc Vestibule

      Sports are nothing more than ritualized, commercialized warfare – an outlet for testosterone, even when one is a passive spectator.
      In football, for example, the goal of the game is to move an ellipsoid bladder across a set distance.
      The skill involved in throwing and moving the bladder is secondary to teh gladiatorital aspect of the opposing team's violent attempts to halt the movement of the bladder carrier.
      Football uniforms explicitly exagerrate masculine characteristics, like the male "V" body shape, in order to underscore the manliness of the whole gig.
      Active participation in these types of games should be an important part of the development of any adolescent. Having an outlet for all that gonadal energy helps minimize random acts of violence and gives some equilibrium to a body wracked by unfamiliar testosterone.
      Passive spectatorship is idol worship. The thrill of vicarious victory when one's favourite team wins is funding a massive industry wherein the pantheon of warriors are paid exorbitant sums of money so they can live as befits demi-gods.

      February 7, 2012 at 9:21 am |
    • Sports Fan

      I wouldn't be so angry if this dim-witted sports fan didn't post these sports references IN THE BELIEF BLOG.

      February 7, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Sports Fan

      Why do you steal my name? You are a strange individual, but that is ok. As long as you are not a Jets fan.

      Yes, sports is awsome, but I think George Carlin said it better than you, no offense.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:18 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      And why should sports be different than the rest of corportate America? At least it is FUN! Yeah!

      February 7, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  16. grinder

    the pope is just another useless guy

    i would pay money to see believers sent to live in north korea

    February 7, 2012 at 12:20 am |
    • Sports Fan

      I wonder how many people pay money to see pre-season games. Not me. I guess season ticket holders don't really have a choice though.

      February 7, 2012 at 12:35 am |
  17. Reality

    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 6, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      We do need they great stadiums where our modern-day gladiators come to battles. The temples of sport!

      February 7, 2012 at 12:37 am |
  18. More Catholic Lipstick on the Pig of Criminal Conspiracy

    Not a word in the article about the Pope's personal involvement in stonewalling the process when HE led the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith? How convenient . . .

    February 6, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      Well that is one thing you don't want to do. If you have injured players, don't let on how bad they are injured. This makes the opposition have to spend more time preparing for unknowns!

      February 6, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
  19. GodIsTheWay

    The only thing I "hate" on the Catholic Church for is seperating from the Orthodox. Drop the pope back down to Bishop of Rome, get rid of everything that followed, and rejoin the Orthodox where Rome was meant to be!

    February 6, 2012 at 8:52 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      I think it is especially difficult when a head coach is also elevated to GM. Not too many people can pull that off. For most teams, I think it is best to take the personnel making decisions away from the head coach and let the GM do that work. Naturally the GM will need advice from the coaching staff, but the final decision should come down to the GM.

      February 6, 2012 at 9:13 pm |
    • A different Sports Fan

      The RCC could also take a page from the book of the more successful teams out there and hire some decent PR and marketing people. While loses can certainly hurt fan moral, a good PR team can keep the stadiums of even losing teams full. Obviously, whoever is in charge of marketing in the Holy See should have been sacked about a decade ago.

      February 6, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      Well I don't know about all that different sports fan, but you are right about good marketing. However, unless you are winning, the fans will jump of the bandwagon pretty fast.

      February 7, 2012 at 12:33 am |
    • A different Sports Fan

      I dunno, if fans drink the kool-aid enough, they'll still show up. It helps to have a long tradition and a solid base. I should think the Toronto Maple Leafs are a good example. Or, you could have fans that have nothing better to do on a Sunday afternoon. Like in Detroit for most of the last three decades.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:06 am |
    • Sports Fan

      Well different sports fan, I know markets in the sunshine better win or they will half empty stadiums. Even the dodgers couldn't fill seats this year, and that is very unusual. Course the whole Frank Mccourt divorce revelations thing didn't help. The Dolphins haven't filled the seats at home in four years.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:19 am |
    • Xycxyxyzyd

      I'm sorry is this the sports blog? Take it somewhere else please! I listen to enough nonsense as it is.

      February 7, 2012 at 1:30 am |
    • Sports Fan


      No, but thank you for asking. Don't you like sports?

      February 7, 2012 at 2:02 am |
  20. Phenylketonuria

    Sadly it doesn't matter what the Pope has done. People that want to hate on the Catholics will ignore the truth of what good the Pope has done or say it wasn't enough.

    February 6, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      Exactly, just like Wes Welker (former Miami Dolphin) going for 55 yards in the first half of the Super Bowl yesterday, but one big drop in the second half and that is all that will be remembered!

      February 6, 2012 at 9:09 pm |
    • chief

      i guess if you let kids get abused but are able to lead your parishers, your doing good....

      February 7, 2012 at 9:27 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.