Controversial cardinal dropped from saying Latin Mass in US


A CONTROVERSIAL cardinal scheduled to deliver Latin Mass this weekend in Washington at one of the nation’s most prominent Catholic churches is being replaced after clerical sex-abuse survivors expressed outrage at his invitation to the event.

Organisers said they and Cardinal Dario Castrillón have agreed that another official should lead the Mass on Saturday because of recent reports that Cardinal Castrillón, of Colombia, once praised a French bishop for not telling police about a priest who had sexually assaulted children.

“This action will help maintain the solemnity, reverence and beauty of the Mass,” the Paulus Institute said in a statement. “The traditional Latin Mass planned for April 24th honouring Pope Benedict on his five-year inauguration anniversary is a liturgical event much bigger than the individual celebrant.”

Cardinal Castrillón, the former head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, has been hammered in the public arena since a 2001 letter he wrote to French bishop Pierre Pican surfaced last week in French news reports. In it, he praised Bishop Pican for not reporting the paedophile priest to police, despite being mandated to do so under French law.

“I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil administration,” Cardinal Castrillón wrote, after Bishop Pican was convicted of failing to report child sex crimes.

“You have acted well, and I am pleased to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of all other bishops in the world, preferred prison to denouncing his son and priest.”

At the time the letter was written, the priest, René Bissey, had been sentenced to 18 years in prison for repeatedly raping a boy and for sexually assaulting 10 other children.

Cardinal Castrillón later ignited another firestorm when he claimed that Pope Benedict’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II, not only approved of his letter but also instructed him to send copies to bishops worldwide.

The Paulus Institute, which was formed in 2007 to preserve older forms of worship, had spent three years planning for the unique Latin Mass.

The institute’s leaders said they invited Cardinal Castrillón in 2008 because he has experience conducting such complicated Masses. Organisers said they are now trying to find a high-ranking bishop to take the cardinal’s place in time for tomorrow’s event.

An advocacy group for victims of clerical abuse praised the institute’s decision to remove Cardinal Castrillón from the Mass but criticised top church officials for not intervening.