Paedophilia a scourge, says Pope


THE POPE has said that all institutions – and not just the church – should be held to exacting standards in the response against sex abuse. His address to American bishops in the Vatican on Saturday coincided with the second anniversary of the Murphy report, published on November 26th, 2009, which investigated the handling of clerical child sex abuse allegations by church and State authorities in the Dublin archdiocese.

Pope Benedict told the bishops the paedophilia scandals were a “scourge” for society, and that the church was making “conscientious efforts” to confront the problem.

He acknowledged that decades of scandals involving the clergy’s sexual abuse of young people had disoriented the faithful in the US.

“It is my hope that the church’s conscientious efforts to confront this reality will help the broader community to recognise the causes, true extent and devastating consequences of sexual abuse, and to respond effectively to this scourge which affects every level of society.

“By the same token, just as the church is rightly held to exacting standards in this regard, all other institutions, without exception, should be held to the same standards,” the Pope said.

He did not address accusations by many victims and their advocates that church leaders, including at the office in the Vatican that Pope Benedict headed before becoming pontiff, systematically tried to cover up the scandals. Investigations, often by civil authorities, revealed church hierarchy frequently transferred paedophile priests from one parish to another.

The pope told the bishops that his papal visit to the United States in 2008 “was intended to encourage the Catholics of America in the wake of the scandal and disorientation caused by the sexual abuse crisis of recent decades”. – (AP)