Three Roman Catholic bishops in Belgium, reacting to damaging sexual abuse scandals in their ranks, have taken the rare step of urging their Church to consider easing its ban on married men in the priesthood.
(Photo: Protest as Pope Benedict XVI arrives by car at St Mary’s University College in London September 17, 2010/Peter Macdiarmid)
Pope Benedict reminded his Church on Friday that its first priority was to provide a safe environment for children as the pontiff was met by the first substantial protest of his delicate visit to Britain. Several hundred people whistled and shouted “Pope must resign” and “shame” as the papal motorcade entered a Catholic school complex in Twickenham, southwest London.
Belgium’s Catholic Church responded to an abuse scandal with plans to create a reconciliation centre and set new rules for priests, but victim groups called the moves insufficient. “The past months have been very difficult for the Church and for us. We are fully committed to tackling this problem in a new way,” Archbishop André-Joseph Leonard told a news conference. “It causes us pain. Coming out of such a crisis is not easy.”
The Catholic Church’s failure to derail a gay marriage law in Argentina shows once powerful clergymen losing their influence in Latin America, where pressure is growing for more liberal social legislation.
The Vatican made sweeping revisions on Thursday it its laws on sexual abuse, doubling a statute of limitations for disciplinary action against priests and extending the use of fast-track procedures to defrock them.
Pope Benedict isn’t visiting Britain until September, but his trip is already making headlines there. Here are our latest reports:
The Legionaries of Christ, a conservative Roman Catholic order that once had absolute and high-level Vatican support, has been disgraced by revelations its charismatic Mexican founder led a double life that included abusing young boys and fathering children. Now it faces the prospect of a second serious setback as the wealthy donors who helped build it into an influential movement in recent decades consider whether to go on contributing to such a shamed organization.
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.