Catholic sex abuse scandal fallout spreads in Europe
Fallout from the Catholic child sex abuse scandal spread across Europe on Thursday as the Vatican retired an Irish bishop, a German offered to step down and prelates in England and Wales apologised for the “terrible crimes” of priests.
The Vatican said Pope Benedict, under criticism from victims for not doing enough about past cases of abuse by priests now being revealed, had accepted the resignation of Bishop James Moriarty, the third Irish bishop to leave over the scandal.
Moriarty said in a statement that he was auxiliary bishop of Dublin from 1991 to 2002, before child protection policies were implemented. “I accept that from the time I became an auxiliary bishop, I should have challenged the prevailing culture,” he said. “I apologise to all survivors and their families.”
In Germany, Walter Mixa, who is bishop for Augsburg and for the German armed forces, offered to resign late on Wednesday after admitting he physically abused children decades ago. His diocese said he did this “to avert further damage to the Church and to allow a new start.”
Bishops in England and Wales issued an apology for the scandal and urged Catholics there to pray for the Church.
The scandal haunting the Catholic Church worldwide looks set to stay in the headlines for weeks to come.
— In Germany, government-sponsored “round table talks” will open in Berlin on Friday to investigate child abuse in Catholic, Protestant and secular schools. A Catholic Church hotline for abuse victims there has been inundated with calls.
— An inquiry run by a Protestant politician in the Netherlands is probing abuse cases in Catholics schools there. Rotterdam Bishop Adrianus van Luyn, head of the Dutch bishops’ conference, has come under fire after admitting he knew of abuse cases in his Salesian order back in the late 1970s.
— A retired senior Vatican prelate, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, has caused another controversy by saying a recently published letter he wrote in 2001 congratulating a French bishop for hiding a predator priest was written with the blessing of the late Pope John Paul.
— The Vatican is due to announce soon what it will do with the Legion of Christ order, whose founder, the late Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, was found to have sexually abused seminarians and fathered at least one child in a double life that long remained secret thanks to his contacts at the top of the Vatican hierarchy.
— Cardinal Sean Brady, primate of Ireland, is under heavy public pressure to resign has set a deadline of May 23 to decide what to do after admitting he was involved in having two sexual abuse victims sign secrecy agreements in 1975.
— On Wednesday, we also had reports that Chile’s bishops had apologised for sexual abuse cases there and three Brazilian priests are suspected of sexually abusing children in a scandal that arose after a video showed one of the priests in a sex act with a young man.