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June 10th, 2010
06:29 AM ET

How should the pope address sex abuse scandal?

Thousands of priests from around the globe have gathered in Rome this week to mark the end of the Vatican's Year for Priests, and Pope Benedict XVI is expected to address the church sex abuse scandal during the event.

We've asked five crisis communication experts to give their advice on how the pope should handle the issue.

- Associate Producer

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Pope Benedict XVI

soundoff (123 Responses)
  1. Naana

    I guess it's now the time to attack the Catholics... the last few day's it was the Jews.......

    June 10, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
  2. Recovering Catholic

    Bashing the church – why not, they have given anyone who can think logically a solid set of reasons to question the organization and the people who run it – not the faith. The Vatican's Disney Land approach to Christianity is laughable and an insult to anyone who has a moral compass. Without having members of the Church take a lemmings mentality to what they do in Rome they would have nothing – it allows them to continue with one of the greatest charades ever.
    The Vatican should use this crisis to reorganize and clean house.

    June 10, 2010 at 2:30 pm |
  3. Danielle Cindy

    It's interesting that this article came out today. Comedian and voice actor Harry Shearer (aka Mr. Burns on The Simpsons), just released an amazingly poignant video about this very issue. It makes me sick to my stomach to think about how terribly the church handled this.

    Here is the Harry Shearer video:
    http://www.mydamnchannel.com/Harry_Shearer/Deaf_Boys/HarryShearerDeafBoys_4878.aspx

    June 10, 2010 at 2:21 pm |
  4. DENNIS

    These are not catholic priests, they are pedophiles that became priests to practice their trade. They need to be sent to prison along those that moved them from church to church. Yes, they need to removed from the priesthood and sued for everything "the church of the pedophiles" is worth. It has nothing to do with them being married or not. They are pedophiles. The will do this as long as they are loose on society. Yes they can be forgiven but not excused from the consequences. dennis

    June 10, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
    • Bruce B.

      Actually,they are priests, supported by the church even after their crimes are revealed by the other admiinistrators who call themselves priests, or bishops or cardinals. It's even sanctioned by the pope, so how much more Catholic can it get?

      June 10, 2010 at 4:23 pm |
  5. jake

    "...is an opportunity to bash the Catholic Church...."

    People bashing and hating the church can always find a mark in the church to shoot at and a pretence to fire until they sink themselves beneath the church they hate. It is all pretty sad. Hitler (responsible for the murder of 6 thousand priests at Dachau, Germany, alone) and Stalin both hated the church and now many people on these posts are joining the anti-Catholic madness of their hearts. But the Jesus and the Blessed Mother is on the side of the church.

    June 10, 2010 at 2:04 pm |
    • DENNIS

      CAN YOU EXCUSE THE ACT OF A PEDOPHILE ON YOUR SON? THIS HAS BEEN GOING ON FOR CENTURIES. BASHING THIS CHURCH, I SAY LIGHTLY, IS SOMETHING THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE. WE MUST STOP EXCUSING THESE PREDATORS FOR THEIR ACTS DESTRUCTION. WE MUST STOP EXCUSING THOSE THAT HAVE HIDDEN THEM, IN THE NAME OF THE LORD. THEY ARE JUST AS GUILTY.

      June 10, 2010 at 2:25 pm |
  6. F. Ross

    Some commentators on this subject have to research the meaning of pedophilia..Allowing priests to marry does not cure a pedophile..Many pedophiles are married men... e.g. fathers who abuse their children, men who prey on children. Please do not assume pedophiles are gay.. most are so called "straights".

    June 10, 2010 at 2:03 pm |
  7. neil

    What is being taken from these stories is an opportunity to bash the Catholic Church. Read these comments! There is no constructive criticism what so ever.

    The question is how should the church be reformed? Abolish the Church is not an answer to that question

    June 10, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
    • Ken

      This is a very serious subject that needs to be addressed. But when reading most of these comments, the subject just gives the real haters an opportunity to spout off.

      June 11, 2010 at 12:05 am |
  8. Tony

    Easy...resign his post, disband the whole church and end the biggest fraud every put forth to human kind...religion!

    June 10, 2010 at 1:48 pm |
  9. jake

    The pope is innocent and a very holy person. The alleged guilt he has to bear for sinful priests, laypeople and millions of sinful abusive people in general is the very nerve of sorrow. May the Lord and the Blessed Mother guide him!

    June 10, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
    • Recovering Catholic

      The Dali Lama is a holy man. The pope runs a corporation and has consistently failed to take the appropriate actions regarding the "sinful priests". The "sinful priests" have broken the law and need to be punished.
      The nerve of sorrow you mention runs through the very souls of those abused at the hands of their priest – not through a man in Rome doing his best to pass the blame, deny any responsibility and protect the guilty.
      There is no alleged guilt – if the allegations of abuse were truly alleged then why would the church pay out millions?
      Millions of dollars that could be used to feed the hungry as opposed to paying for the illegal actions of priests.
      His Holiness needs to resign and hand the charge of papacy to someone who has received the "divine guidance" to do the right thing – his actions to date are a cause for shame for Christians of all denominations.

      June 10, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
    • Arthur Baselice

      How 'holy ' can this 'pope' be ? He can just reveal the names of the priests that have harmed children and unload the alleged burden you claim he endures . The 'pope' will never do that as in his mind and the rcc feel that the children they harm are expendable. Why do you think the lawyers that represent the pedophile priests drag out litigation until the last moment and then reach a 'settlement' which includes a 'confidentiality clause' ? By the way when the settlement is reached the claim is dismissed , Is it because they fear that if people read the horror that these victims endured of those that are still alive it would give a clear picture of what the church did and when it knew these horrible acts were taking place. How does the 'pope' and the rcc resolve the harm of the 13 children in Belgium who committed suicide ? Yea he is holy alright you keep telling yourself that falsehood and one day you will believe it!

      September 27, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  10. LouAz

    He must quit wearing dresses and silly hats. He is not a performer playing some part in a Circus. Someone should lead the church (sic) into the 21st Century, and treat all child molesters as the criminals they are. I doubt that the members of the catholic church can do anything as they have been helpless for at least 1000 years. This "enabler" will not do anything except wring his hands and pray harder . . . for what I cannot imagine.

    June 10, 2010 at 1:32 pm |
  11. Jon

    Not wearing an orange girly hat like the one he is wearing in the picture, that's for sure.

    June 10, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
    • Ken

      Oh yes, a serious comment on a serious subject.

      June 11, 2010 at 12:01 am |
  12. GW

    Please look at what has already been done to rectify this situation. New rules have been in place for years, screening of new members who study for the priesthool to prevent these issues. Lay persons who work with children are tested and attend classes to recongnize abuse and report abuse. Also no new cases, all are old cases and they have been addressed. Charity begins at home and in the world the Catholic church does more work for the poor and with the least administrative costs. Check your facts before you put these statements to print.

    June 10, 2010 at 1:22 pm |
    • Eric G.

      Why do you refer to charity? What does that have to do with this topic? If the church as procedures in place to prevent this from happening again, fine. That still does not answer the question. Perhaps you can provide some insight. Did the church knowingly cover up and protect pedophiles within it's priesthood? That is a crime. How many meals served to the homeless does it take to make it go away?

      June 10, 2010 at 1:32 pm |
  13. RichP, easton, pa

    Castrate the priests, they have no use for what they have anyway.

    June 10, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
  14. Why Me

    No one is EVER going to do what is right, unless we the people start executing these child raping evil incarnate priests.
    HEY MAINSTREAM MEDIA.... YOU ARE SO OFF BASE ON WHAT AMERICA THINKS AND FEELS almost as if you are telling us what to think, not reporting real news. Didn't journalism used to have integrity? I guess after Deep Throat, the corporate/political mafia decided to end the career of any journalist that actually pursued truth and had journalistic integrity.

    June 10, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
  15. Mark Wright

    The question is what should the Pope do–it would be nice to see respondants actually respond to that. #1) Make it ABSOLUTELY CLEAR, that the Church will not tolerate any abuse whatsoever, and any Priest suspected of such will be immediately suspended, and handed over to local law enforcement. #2) Any Priest proven guilty of such abuse is immediately defrocked. #3) Any bishop or senior member of the Church who attempts to hide the fact that abuse is suspected of one of their Priests, whether founded or not, will be immediately removed from thier leadership position, and handed over to local law enforcement for possible charges of obstruction of justice. If found guilty, they are permanently barred from any leadership position, and will pay in full what the law demands.

    The Pope is not personally culpable for the abuse found in the church; however, as the head of the church, he must strongly address it. He is supposed to be a shepherd. As a former Catholic, I'm very disappointed that he didn't act like one.

    June 10, 2010 at 12:54 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Are we really even asking this question? Why does this continue to even be a debate. The Pope has cleary made and continues to make terrible decisions. The real question is, why do people ask why I no longer choose to follow the Catholic Church?

    June 10, 2010 at 12:34 pm |
  17. brendie

    I am a Catholic who loves the church. That is exactly why I am so angry that the Church is not doing the right thing. It sis not go after the perverts in its midst and abetted their crimes by covering up. These criminals (perverts and abettors) his behind sanctimonious 'church rules' and did not follow Christ's rules. Shame on them – they have scandalized the church –

    June 10, 2010 at 12:29 pm |
  18. RicoL

    First, we should make the difference between the "Curia" and the Bishop Conferences, which are the centralized and regional bodies that governs the Roman Catholic Church, and the Church itself, also known as the "Body of Christ" that is made by all those who have been baptized, living and departed. Hence, the crimes were not committed by the Church but by individuals within the Church who mishandled their authority and responsibility at many different levels, from the priest who abused children to those in power who handled the information detailing cases of abuse. The motive regarding how this information was handled was to protect the "moral authority" of the Church, rather than its flock.

    This is not the first time that the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church have made decisions based on an attempt to protect appearances in order to maintain a moral teaching authority instead of following Christ's commitment to care for the individuals that make up the Body of Christ. For this reason, I do not believe that a specific apology is sufficient in this case. We need to acknowledge a clear commitment to change the priorities guiding the decision taken by the Pope and all those in positions of authority within the Church.

    June 10, 2010 at 12:25 pm |
  19. Rich

    sell the vatican to help the poor, then close down the worthless church and resign.

    June 10, 2010 at 12:22 pm |
  20. Williams

    Simple solution. Since the catholic faith encourages abuse by not letting their priest marry maybe it is time to let them have this right. The religion needs to evolve into the 21st century. I'm sure God wouldn't mind. Especially since it will reduce the abuse of young males. God certainly would appreciate that!

    June 10, 2010 at 12:09 pm |
    • paul

      God told you that ? you think he will give you the winning numbers to the lotto ?

      June 10, 2010 at 2:29 pm |
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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.