1 Dec 2010

As Vatican cardinal defends pope and church, African bishop says sex crimes of priests there not yet exposed

Irish Times - April 8, 2010

Vatican hits back again at criticism over child sex abuse

by PADDY AGNEW in Rome

THE VATICAN has again hit back in strong terms at those criticising the Catholic Church over its handling of the sexual abuse of children by priests.

In an interview yesterday a senior Vatican figure, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, said criticism of the Holy See over the issue was “truly incomprehensible”.

“What we are dealing with now is a cultural battle: the pope embodies moral truths which people don’t accept and for that reason the shortcomings and errors of priests are used as arms against the church,” he told the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano.

Cardinal Sodano, who at the weekend said the church would not be distracted by “idle gossip”, in an apparent reference to the child abuse scandal, again defended the record of the pope and bishops on the issue.

“It was not the fault of Jesus if he was betrayed by Judas. Nor is it the fault of a bishop if one of his priests sullies himself with grave crimes. And certainly, it is not the responsibility of the pontiff,” he said.

“The Christian community correctly feels itself injured when people try to involve it as a whole in grave and painful incidents concerning some priests, thus transforming individual guilt and responsibility into collective guilt with a manipulation that is truly incomprehensible.”

Cardinal Sodano, who is deacon of the College of Cardinals and served for 15 years as Vatican secretary of state, likened current international criticism of the pope to that suffered by Pius X “for his battles against modernism”, to criticism of Pius XII for “his behaviour during the second World War” and to criticism of Paul VI in relation to the Humanae Vitae encyclical, confirming the church’s ban on contraception.

The cardinal’s defence of the pope and the church came as fresh revelations of clerical sex abuse came to light, this time in Norway.

The Holy See confirmed yesterday that the former Bishop of Trondheim, Georg Mueller, resigned in June of last year because he had sexually abused a minor, 20 years ago.

In a brief communique, the Vatican’s senior spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, confirmed a report on Bishop Mueller which had appeared yesterday on the website of Norwegian state broadcaster Nrk, saying: “I confirm the information given by Bishop Bernd Eidsvig, the Apostolic Administrator of Trondheim (Norway), with regard to the former Bishop of Trondheim, Monsignor Georg Mueller, who was Bishop from 1997 to 2009.

“The incident in question concerns the sexual abuse of a minor at the beginning of the ‘90s, an incident that became known to the ecclesiastical authorities in January 2009.

“The question was examined and rapidly dealt with by the Stockholm nunciature, acting on a mandate from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.”

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Press TV - Iran April 7, 2010

Bishop: Africa not immune to church child abuse

Weeks after a global scandal of child abuse by predatory priests rocked the Vatican, an African archbishop says Africa has not been immune to the same scourge of sexual abuse.

Archbishop of Johannesburg Buti Tlhagale, who heads the Southern African Catholic Bishops Conference, said on Wednesday that Africa is "inflicted with the same scourge" of sexual abuse recently revealed across Europe.

"What happens in Ireland or in Germany or America affects us all. It simply means that the misbehaviour of priests in Africa has not been exposed to the same glare of the media as in other parts of the world," he said.

Tlhagale, however, did not provide details about any specific incidents in the African continent.

The remarks come as earlier on Wednesday a new case of sexual abuse by the church cropped up in Norway's small Catholic community.

Georg Müller, the former Catholic Bishop-prelate of Trondheim, admitted to having sexually abused a minor.

The victim was a choir boy who is now in his 30's. The former altar boy is said to have been financially compensated by the Church, and has requested anonymity.

Müller stepped down from his position in May 2009. Though he provided little explanation at the time of his resignation, he has now revealed that his decision came as he felt unsuited for the position due to the abuse.

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