Pope: Church feels 'shame and regret' for abuse
October 18th, 2010
08:32 AM ET

Pope: Church feels 'shame and regret' for abuse

Catholic priests who sexually abused children "disfigured their ministry" and caused the Catholic Church "profound shame and regret," Pope Benedict XVI wrote Monday, in one of his strongest statements to date on the scandal facing the Vatican. "

What has happened should make us all the more watchful and attentive," the pope wrote in an open letter to men studying to be priests.

But he insisted that it is still good to become a priest and that celibacy still "makes sense."

"Even the most reprehensible abuse cannot discredit the priestly mission, which remains great and pure," he said.

Campaigners for victims of abuse by priests immediately rejected the  statement as "minimizing" and "mischaracterizing" the crisis, which has seen  thousands of victims come forward from across western Europe and the United  States.

"The pope's pronouncements on abuse are getting worse, not better," said  Barbara Dorris of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).

"Using words like 'recently' falsely suggests clergy sex crimes and  cover-ups are a relatively new problem. They are not," she said in a statement.

"Using the past tense falsely suggests such crimes and cover ups are  behind us. They are not," she said.

"Using words that ignore the stunning recklessness, callousness and  deceit by bishops falsely suggest that bishops are innocent in this mess. They  are not," she said.

"Tragically, while kids are being molested and crimes are being  concealed, the pope deliberately mischaracterizes and minimizes the wrongdoing  of the church hierarchy, while passively sitting  back waiting for the scandal to explode in yet another nation somewhere on the globe," she said.

Benedict in his letter defended priestly celibacy, which some have said is a reason some priests abuse children.

"All of us know exemplary priests, men shaped by their faith, who bear  witness that one can attain to an authentic, pure and mature humanity in this  state and specifically in the life of celibacy," he said.

He urged new priests "to practice the fundamental human virtues, with  your gaze fixed on the God who has revealed himself in Christ, and to let  yourselves be purified by him ever anew."

Three independent investigations have been launched into the abuse of  children by priests in Ireland, while police raided the headquarters of the  Catholic Church in Belgium and a church-government working group has been set  up to tackle the problem in the pope's native Germany.

There have also been accusations of abuse in the United States, Italy,  the Netherlands, and other countries.

Critics say the problem is not only the abuse itself, but the cover-up of  the problem by bishops.

Read the Pope's letter here.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

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

soundoff (207 Responses)
  1. oneStarman - Walla Walla, WA

    MAYBE its time to have a Pope and Priests who don't think sleeping with women is "ICKY".

    October 18, 2010 at 8:28 pm |
  2. The Other Side

    Well said Raison!

    The Catholic Church is not the first church anyway. It was hijacked by a bunch who decided to call itself "Catholic" and abuse the system from there on.
    The Pope has such "authority" he thinks he is above the law.
    I guess if somebody was slain during a mass, they would not even call the cops, since it would be an "in house" event! How absurd are these so called rules and laws they follow.
    Nothing but a bunch of deceit. Just tell everyone that had abuse or the familys of, they are sooo sorry....ah, now isn't that sweet of them?
    They are criminals and criminals should be punished. The pope is as guilty as the rest, for covering it up and hiding the abusers.
    So he comes and spews some smooth talk, and everyone is suppose to melt? I think NOT!!

    October 18, 2010 at 8:05 pm |
  3. Mark

    He should feel shame and regret for running a criminal organization and calling it a church. From its very beginning this church has been a fraud. It was founded by a pagan named Simon Magus. Read a good novel about the church called On This Rock by Dave Leonard, A good read for a fall night and it'll shock you.

    October 18, 2010 at 8:00 pm |
  4. Mikko

    Do not let a priest be with your child alone in a room

    October 18, 2010 at 7:31 pm |
    • John

      What utter nonsense. I should think a child would be safer with a priest than the vast majority of people. By the way, the statistics prove me right. Less than 2% of priests have ever been accused, let alone implicated. Ever wonder how the Salem Witch trials got impetus – read your comment and you will discern your answer.

      October 18, 2010 at 7:56 pm |
    • Mikko

      the catholic church moved the pedophiles around so that they could molest more children and blamed the victims

      so do not trust a priest!

      October 18, 2010 at 8:19 pm |
    • Muneef

      If no trust then keep a surveillance camera you will never know who it could be an abuser it could be a private teachers or maids.

      October 19, 2010 at 10:09 am |
  5. Lancaster Merrin

    Especially important is the warning to avoid conversations with the demon. We may ask what is relevant but anything beyond that is dangerous. He is a liar. The demon is a liar. He will lie to confuse us. But he will also mix lies with the truth to attack us. The attack is psychological, Damien, and powerful. So don't listen to him. Remember that – do not listen.

    October 18, 2010 at 7:21 pm |

      The demon is a looser. That is what he is.

      October 18, 2010 at 10:12 pm |
  6. archangel88

    For the Pope and his managers the show and business must go on. They will say anything to protect their lucrative business.They are in damage control. He is bluntly lying by suggesting that child and adult abuse is a relatively new issue within the catholic church. If one studies the history and behavior of the catholic church in the the past few hundred years then it makes you really wonder what sort of people think the church is still worth supporting.

    October 18, 2010 at 6:50 pm |
  7. TheRationale

    Well they pretend to be cannibals and vampires when they think that they're actually eating and drinking the body and blood of Jesus. But no, nobody saw that little red flag. Or the one about condoms supposedly being worse than AIDS. No, it takes the active molestation of children for people actually see that this is a sick and twisted cult that is worth deleting from the planet.

    October 18, 2010 at 6:30 pm |

      No. This is what it takes to get attention to child molestation as a societal decease. To get people talking about child molestation. And how to end the ongoing molestation of all children. Everywhere. Remember Dog, 3 out of 10 children are molested. That means statistically that most child molesters are atheists.

      Like your self.

      October 18, 2010 at 10:08 pm |
    • HotAirAce


      How about explaing your math – how do you leap from 3 of 10 children being molested to this means most molestors are atheists? Or is this just more "blind faith" thinking?

      Here's a fact for you: every priest in the catholic church that molests a child is a catholic – 100%!! How about you focus on that fact rather than trying to deflect attention away from the fact that the rcc has a long tract record (some might say heritage) of abusing children and a provable record of covering it up.

      October 19, 2010 at 12:07 am |
    • Raison

      GABRIEL is obviously a very piss-poor "apologist" for the Catholic Church.
      His words show that he has fallen back on making wild accusations about atheists with no proof to back up his obvious lies.

      You can almost hear him snarling like a vicious and vile ranting dog of a Catholic who has probably molested children, since he seeks to protect child-molesters in this way. Why else would anyone want to speak as he has done?????

      October 19, 2010 at 8:03 am |
  8. CalmDog

    The issue is NOT pedophilia. As bad as it is, that is an illness. The issue is hiding, protecting, enabling, covering up, being accessories to pedophilia with clear-headed intent. That is NOT an illness. That is self-serving evil.

    October 18, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
    • Tosay

      The pope looks somewhat unable to walk on his own. The Dalai Lama came to a Catholic Church a few blocks from my house last week. That was cool. High turnout.

      October 18, 2010 at 6:38 pm |

      Wrong, Dog.

      The issue is that 3 out 10 children everywhere are molested. 3 out 10.

      His Holiness The Pope is trying to bring focus to this issue and end all child molestation everywhere.

      What do you do?

      October 18, 2010 at 10:03 pm |
    • Raison


      Since you are obviously trying to protect the criminals within the Catholic Church, your words are empty.

      October 19, 2010 at 7:56 am |
  9. Northern

    There should be a formal Police investigation WORLD WIDE in to the pedophile ring known as the 'Catholic Church'. There is more than enough evidence to support such an investigation in to the largest community of sick and twisted individuals ever to step foot on this Planet.

    October 18, 2010 at 6:06 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      If it was any group, other than religion, the investigation would have been completed by now. But because of mass delusion, hundreds of years of clinging to childhood fears and gutless politicians, religion gets a free pass. It is time to become intolernat of religion!!

      October 19, 2010 at 12:02 am |
  10. Northern

    Worthless out dated useless commercialized Religious psycho babble that has absolutely no positive out come in today's modern societies.

    October 18, 2010 at 6:01 pm |
  11. NL

    “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. ” Mahatma Gandhi

    Considering just how 'Sad' their response to this has been so far, let us hope that this is a sign that the Vatican is on it's way to achieving greater ... ah, happiness.

    October 18, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  12. Tosay

    So Muslims are, according to some, terrorists, Catholics are pedophiles. Etc. Etc. Nobody wants to pay taxes. Especially wealthy churches?

    October 18, 2010 at 5:19 pm |
    • Muneef

      Should any Churchs and Mosques or Temples pay Taxs? Are they considered as a Business and have to pay Taxs? Taxs for what "from the charities they receive or from the investments they made out of these charities ?

      October 19, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
  13. john the baptist

    The pedophile pope should be ashamed to be a catholic

    October 18, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
  14. Tosay

    They (priests) cannot marry. Wifes and children cost money to support. And then the nuns might need spousal benefits. God forbid. Fancy gold cross staff in the picture. Can you catch a fish with it?

    October 18, 2010 at 4:57 pm |
  15. JD

    The Catholic Church has a history of problems with this issue. But to constantly criticize the Pope when he is trying to address the issue systematically, even when he is apologizing, seems like overkill. Maybe instead of criticizing everything he says, maybe start questioning what the church will do about it, and if they are not making progress, then criticize his lack of initiative. Condemning all Catholic churches as harboring pedophiles is the same as labeling all Muslims as terrorists. I think it is ironic that so many politically correct people forget the hypocrisy they are committing in this regard.

    October 18, 2010 at 4:57 pm |
    • Frogist

      @JD: Actually your comparison doesn't follow. There is no single body controlling all of Islam as there is with the Catholic church. Every Catholic church is beholden to the Pope and his orders. The heirarchy is set up that way. So if the head of the Catholic religion is not being forthcoming and ok-ing those below him to do as such, then they are all guilty. Especially since they have a single body to pet!tion and question and to demand change. How many churches, parishioners, bishops, priests, nuns are actually doing that? Not many considering the turn out in Britain earlier this year.

      October 19, 2010 at 10:28 am |
  16. Waheed

    thousands of rapists go free each year, and here you whine about a bunch of molesters who like to fondle little kid.

    October 18, 2010 at 4:42 pm |
    • Muneef

      That was not nice to say but any way both should have the same punishment equally after all those rapists could have been the victims of those priests.

      There should be a change that allows pasters,priests or sisters,mothers or what ever they call them serving the church to get married and not with out being a husband and wife since they are only humans and have human needs and keeping them singals as males and females drive them to wrong doings at these weakest moments of Humans Needs!
      In Islam marriage is considered as half of the Religion and the other half is Pilgrimage,Hajj to Mecca! Doesn't matter which comes first but a man is complete as a one full moon only if had both done!
      So have mercy on those poor human beings otherwise their lives are burnt for nothing since God did not say so beside that they may contribute for more gays and lesbians from those children into the Society? 
      May God forgive me and all

      October 18, 2010 at 9:25 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      So, are you saying it's OK to abuse children? Are you a complete idiot or just a catholic aplogist?

      October 18, 2010 at 11:59 pm |
    • Muneef

      Have I said that? Are you sure? As for me I did not say that at all every body has to pay for his crimes but I mentioned about allowing marriage to avoid further abuse for future generations. So kindly read well and await your appology for your insult me and accusing me of some thing non human and non Islamic.!?

      October 19, 2010 at 3:55 pm |
    • Muneef

      Am still waiting if your ego allows you to be apologetic when discover you were wrong about people or are you the type that carry on with wrongs with out appologies even if he knew he was wrong will insist he is right? Which are you HotAirAce?

      October 19, 2010 at 5:36 pm |
    • Raison


      HotAirAce was obviously talking to Waheed and not you. No apology needed. I think he should have said @Waheed to show this, but many people respond like this in a post.
      If you are responding to the first post, no "@" is needed unless you anticipate the computer glitch that makes responses go everywhere.
      I usually do, so I usually add the "@" symbol to show who I am talking to.
      I hope you can see this. Misunderstandings of this sort should not happen, yet they do.

      October 20, 2010 at 2:43 am |
    • Muneef


      Yes seems you are right again about that maybe got confused calling Waheed a Catholic some thing when I know that the name of Waheed being Arabic,Islamic name so thought he meant my comments or us both...
      Well seems that I should apologize and say sorry for the misunderstanding and thanks to the filters for preventing me from committing further mistakes at time of anger...

      October 20, 2010 at 4:06 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Muneef – sorry for the confusion. My reply was to "no reply" Waheed.

      @Raisin – thanks for explaing my poor posting habits.

      October 20, 2010 at 8:05 pm |
    • Muneef

      @ HotAirAce.
      Thank you you are kind and I am sorry I had rubbished with words with my misunderstanding.
      Thank you for bringing to attention my misunderstanding.
      Honestly I say there are still few pure spirits and clean hearts in this world which deserves guidance to the light.

      October 21, 2010 at 11:59 am |
  17. JAYTEE

    As a parent I will never send my children to any Catholic run club or youth organisation, or be allowed on their own with a priest. Why risk your own kids when the incidence of abuse is so abnormally high when compared to to other youth organisations – both religious or secular? There seems to be a long term endemic problem within the Catholic Church, and there needs to be a massive change if parents are to start trusting priests with their children. I feel so sorry for those abuse victims, especially the orphans housed in Catholic homes – they never had a choice or a chance.

    October 18, 2010 at 4:30 pm |

      Jaytee, 3 out 10 children are molested.

      The vast majority miles and miles away from the Catholic Church. The Catholic church does of course not have a higher precentage of child molestation. Keep that in mind.

      3 out of 10 children are molested. And the vast, vast, vast majority are atheists.

      Some of your friends are most likely childmolesters, some of your co-workers are most likely child molesters, or at least someone you know.

      So please, tell all your friends and co-workers to stop molesting their children.
      Because it does not matter to the children what occupation the molesters have.

      October 18, 2010 at 9:55 pm |
    • HotAirAce


      If you believe in the silliness of the bible, you can probably convince yourself of anything, but how about providing some support for your assertion that most child molesters are atheists. Here's a link to some studies that indicate most inmates are catholic – w w w.skeptic files.org / american / prison . htm (spaces added to get past the mods).

      October 18, 2010 at 11:57 pm |
    • Frank

      Oh, please. I was a member of the local Diocesan Youth Council, went on a mission trip and attended the National Catholic Youth Conference. There were no problems and the priests I know are great human beings. One of them helped me and my mother out a lot while we were going through a very tough time. Stop allowing the media to fear-monger you.

      October 19, 2010 at 2:44 am |
    • Frogist

      @Jaytee: At this point, I'm with you. Any children of mine, I wouldn't leave with a priest. And that's less about the numbers of abuse in religious v non-religious arenas. But it has most to do with the fact that the Catholic church will not let these m-onsters be held responsible or take responsibility itself. If an atheist, teacher, neighbour, dog-walker abu-ses my child, right to the police he will go. And whatever organisation he is part of will drop him like a hot potato. Not so for the Catholic church who will move the offender around and treat him like a humanitarian of the highest order because he holds the t!tle of "priest". I doubt any parent will feel safe when ab-use happens in their family. But how much more does that shake your foundation when it's a priest backed by an international multi-million dollar corporation whose point of view so far is to protect itself? I know my resources and situation. And I'm not taking that risk.

      October 19, 2010 at 10:18 am |
  18. AMAU

    Since Catholic Church clergy cannot marry, they will always be plagued with this sickness of infadelity. What's worse is that their moral fiber has been exposed as being warped and just a show.

    October 18, 2010 at 4:24 pm |
  19. Reality

    And the great con job of Cathocism continues. Its problems go way beyond abuse by priests and nuns (and married men, preachers, boy scout leaders, and rabbis). Said problems go to the heart of the situation with all religions, the flaws and frauds in the historical and theological foundations.

    Only for new members: (a summary of the problems of Christianity in all its forms)

    1. origin: http://query.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F20E1EFE35540C7A8CDDAA0894DA404482

    New Torah For Modern Minds

    Abraham, the Jewish patriarch, probably never existed. Nor did Moses. The entire Exodus story as recounted in the Bible probably never occurred. The same is true of the tumbling of the walls of Jericho. And David, far from being the fearless king who built Jerusalem into a mighty capital, was more likely a provincial leader whose reputation was later magnified to provide a rallying point for a fledgling nation.

    Such startling propositions – the product of findings by archaeologists digging in Israel and its environs over the last 25 years – have gained wide acceptance among non-Orthodox rabbis. But there has been no attempt to disseminate these ideas or to discuss them with the laity – until now.

    The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, which represents the 1.5 million Conservative Jews in the United States, has just issued a new Torah and commentary, the first for Conservatives in more than 60 years. Called "Etz Hayim" ("Tree of Life" in Hebrew), it offers an interpretation that incorporates the latest findings from archaeology, philology, anthropology and the study of ancient cultures. To the editors who worked on the book, it represents one of the boldest efforts ever to introduce into the religious mainstream a view of the Bible as a human rather than divine docu-ment.

    2. Jesus was an illiterate Jewish peasant/carpenter/simple preacher man who suffered from hallucinations and who has been characterized anywhere from the Messiah from Nazareth to a mythical character from mythical Nazareth to a ma-mzer from Nazareth (Professor Bruce Chilton, in his book Rabbi Jesus). An-alyses of Jesus’ life by many contemporary NT scholars (e.g. Professors Crossan, Borg and Fredriksen, ) via the NT and related doc-uments have concluded that only about 30% of Jesus' sayings and ways noted in the NT were authentic. The rest being embellishments (e.g. miracles)/hallucinations made/had by the NT authors to impress various Christian, Jewish and Pagan se-cts.
    The 30% of the NT that is "authentic Jesus" like everything in life was borrowed/plagiarized and/or improved from those who came before. In Jesus' case, it was the ways and sayings of the Babylonians, Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hit-ti-tes, Canaanites, OT, John the Baptizer and possibly the ways and sayings of traveling Greek Cynics.

    For added "pizz-azz", Catholic theologians divided god the singularity into three persons and invented atonement as an added guilt trip for the "pew people" to go along with this trinity of overseers. By doing so, they made god the padre into god the "fil-icider".

    Current RCC problems:

    Pedo-ph-iliac priests, an all-male, mostly white hierarchy, atonement theology and original sin!!!!

    3. Luther, Calvin, Joe Smith, Henry VIII, Wesley, Roger Williams, the Great “Babs” et al, founders of Christian-based religions or combination religions also suffered from the belief in/hallucinations of "pretty wingie thingie" visits and "prophecies" for profits analogous to the myths of Catholicism (resurrections, apparitions, ascensions and immacu-late co-nceptions).

    Current problems:

    Adu-lterous preachers, "propheteering/ profiteering" evangelicals and atonement theology,

    October 18, 2010 at 4:12 pm |
    • Reality

      And the great con job of Catholicism continues. Its problems go way beyond abuse by priests and nuns (and married men, preachers, boy scout leaders, and rabbis). Said problems go to the heart of the situation with all religions, the flaws and frauds in the historical and theological foundations.

      October 18, 2010 at 11:46 pm |
  20. Janice

    The pope should not be pope anymore. Not any of them if they think molestation of little kids is okay because their path to God or whatever is still pure and good then they are messed up in the head.

    October 18, 2010 at 3:20 pm |
1 2 3 4 5
About this blog

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.