Cardinal says no evidence women priests would have stopped cover-up of paedophilia

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn says church has ‘learned a lot’ from its mistakes

Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leary, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn  and Fr Chris O’Donnell at the Let’s Talk Family: Let’s Be Family conference in Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. Photograph: Brian Arthur

Bishop of Limerick Brendan Leary, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn and Fr Chris O’Donnell at the Let’s Talk Family: Let’s Be Family conference in Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. Photograph: Brian Arthur

 

A leading Cardinal has said there is no evidence to suggest that women priests would have prevented the systemic cover-up of clerical paedophilia.

Asked at a press conference in Limerick on Thursday if he agreed there was a compelling argument for ordaining women priests, given that “many” believe the abuse of children would never have been tolerated by women, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn glibly responded: “I think we have nearly completed the agenda that has to happen in every interview, I’m sorry to say.”

After initially laughing at the question, the Archbishop of Vienna continued: “I take your question seriously, but, astonishingly, these questions come in every discussion, in every (interview).I think it’s simply not possible to give an answer (about) what should have been done to avoid abuse.”

Cardinal Schönborn said the church had now “learned a lot” from its mistakes, and that he and others were committed “to stand very clearly for truth. The truth will set you free. That’s the word of Jesus.”

He said church and society together must “speak out about what was so long hidden and covered (up)”.

Pressed about whether he believed women priests may have helped to prevent the scandal of clerical abuse of children, Cardinal Schönborn said they were “two questions which I would not link. I’m sorry to say that. We have no expertise about the link you make between these two questions.”

Cardinal Schönborn added that an independent commission in Vienna involving “men and women equally” had handled abuse scandals “very honestly” and “without any interference” by the church.

Cardinal Schönborn, a son of a divorced couple, advocated for a more “merciful” church towards divorcees and same-sex couples.

Agreeing that some marriages can’t last forever, he said: “Yes, dramas happen in life; That’s life.”

He said that, “despite the fact (Pope Francis) is not married”, he was “a master in counselling, good marriage counselling”.