German Catholic politicians and lay activists urged Pope Benedict on Monday to speak out about sexual abuse cases by priests that have shocked the country and led to questions about his management of the crisis. The calls came amid widespread criticism in the media that the Bavarian-born pontiff made no statement after getting a briefing on the scandals at the Vatican on Friday from the leader of the Church in Germany, Archbishop Robert Zollitsch.
In Bavaria, a convicted abuser priest whose transfer to Munich in 1980 while Pope Benedict was archbishop there threatened to draw the pontiff into the scandal, was suspended from his post in a spa town, the Munich archdiocese announced.
“The Holy Father needs to say something about this,” Dirk Tänzler, head of the Federation of German Catholic Youth (BDKJ), told the Berliner Zeitung daily. “The Church needs to be more honest and stricter with itself, and that naturally includes the pope,” Wolfgang Thierse, a vice president of the German parliament and member of the Central Committee of Catholics, told ARD television.
A Vatican prelate, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, said Benedict would soon speak with “his clear and decisive voice, without hiding anything” in an expected letter on similar scandals in Ireland, but gave no date or hint if it would mention Germany. Fisichella, in an interview with the Milan daily Corriere della Sera, echoed Vatican attacks on the media for pursuing the scandals. “The rage against the pontiff is insane,” he said.