FaithWorld

Maltese alleged abuse victims ask to meet Pope

grech

Lawrence Grech, a victim of church child abuse, at a news conference with other victims near Valletta, April 12, 2010/Darrin Zammit Lupi

Ten Maltese men, who have taken three priests to court for alleged child abuse, on Monday requested a private meeting with Pope Benedict XVI when he visits Malta during the coming weekend.

So far, the pope has not spoken out directly on the new wave of sexual abuse allegations that is hounding the Church in a number of coutries, including the United Satates, Italy and his native Germany.

There has been a high incidence of allegations of abuse on the Mediterranean island of Malta, where 45 cases have been reported involving the clergy going back to the 1970s.

“We are asking to meet the Pope for a few minutes to help us heal and to overcome this trauma,” Lawrence Grech, a spokesman for the ten men, told a press conference.  He said the victims, who were resident in a home for children when the alleged abuse took place, were seeking justice, not financial compensation.

Italian sexual abuse victims want Pope Benedict to speak out

verona 1

Abuse victim Gianni Bisoli in Verona April 8, 2010/Paolo Bona

Abuse victim Dario Laiti is deaf and has great difficulty speaking. But he has a clear message for Pope Benedict: expose predator priests, past and present, living and dead, for the good of the Church.

“I think the pope has to carry out justice. He has to get rid of all the priests who abused children. He has to tell the world who these people were and which of them are still living,” Laiti told Reuters in the northern Italian city of Verona.

So far, the pope has not spoken out directly on the new wave of sexual abuse allegations that is hounding the Church in a number of countries, including the United States, Italy and his native Germany.

Catholic Church at crossroads in Milwaukee over abuse charges

milwaukee

Sexual abuse victims meet journalists outside the Cousin's Center, owned by the Milwaukee Archdiocese in St. Francis, Wisconsin March 25, 2010/Allen Fredrickson

Stung by fresh charges of priestly sexual abuse and allegations of a cover-up that reach the Vatican, the Roman Catholic Church in the United States faces a crisis of empty pews and empty coffers.

Attendance was down noticeably at some Easter Sunday services in Milwaukee, reflecting the litany of troubles facing the U.S. Church and a torrent of criticism over its handling of abuse cases.

German Catholic Church sexual abuse hotline flooded with calls

ackermann

Trier Bishop Stephan Ackermann launches hotline on March 30, 2010. Text reads : "victims of sexual abuse"/Johannes Eisele

A German hotline for victims of sexual abuse by clerics was deluged with thousands of calls in the week after the Roman Catholic Church launched the counseling service in a bid to restore trust.

Some 13,293 people attempted to call the hotline over the course of the first week but only 2,670 were able to connect with the overwhelmed 11 counselors on duty, church officials said.

Africa also suffers sex abuse by priests: Joburg RC archbishop

africa crucifix

A member of the faithful shows a crucifix to Pope Benedict XVI during a youth rally at the Dos Coqueiros stadium in Luanda, Angola March 21, 2009/Alessandro Bianchi

Sexual abuse by Catholic priests is a scourge in Africa as well as the Western countries where scandals have badly hurt the Vatican’s image, a leading African Catholic archbishop has said.

Archbishop of Johannesburg Buti Tlhagale said the damage weakened the Church’s ability to speak out with moral authority in Africa, where it has at times been a rare voice challenging dictatorship, corruption and abuse of power.

Sex abuse scandals shake Church but not faith

pew

Catholics at Easter Mass at the Beijing Southern Catholic Church April 3, 2010/Petar Kujundzic

Sexual abuse by clerics and accusations of cover-up have rocked the Roman Catholic Church and disturbed churchgoers around the world, but many believers say the scandals have not shaken their faith.  From Rome to Rio de Janeiro, Paris to Dublin and from Warsaw and Washington, Easter sermons were overshadowed by allegations of priests molesting children, especially in Europe and the United States, and the Church’s mishandling of the crisis.

Across Pope Benedict’s native Germany, hundreds of long-concealed reports of sexual abuse have emerged and shattered a notion abuse was only a U.S. and Irish problem.  “It’s the greatest loss of confidence in the Catholic Church since the Hitler era,” said Christa Nickels, a member of the Central Committee of German Catholics and a Greens party leader.

GUESTVIEW: Are Catholics masochists?

lyon catholic

Notre Dame de Fourvière Basilica, Lyon/Frédéric de La Mure

The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Isabelle de Gaulmyn is Religion Editor of the Paris Catholic daily newspaper La Croix and author of Benoît XVI, Le pape incompris (Benedict XVI, The Misunderstood Pope). She blogs in French at Une foi par semaine, where this first appeared.

Are Catholics masochists? After all that’s been happening these days, this looks like the question to ask. There were probably more than 3 million Catholics in France who went to church to celebrate Palm Sunday today. And during this Holy Week, millions more will to prepare for Easter. If the news we hear is anything to go by, these Catholics must be either mad or masochistic.

la croix uneWhy not take advantage of this Sunday to go fishing or play tennis rather than frequent a place full of pedophile priests and leaders who lie  and hush up the truth? How can there still be people in the pews, on pilgrimages, in monasteries or volunteering in one of many charities?

NYT’s long paper trail on Rome, Ratzinger and abusive priest

abuse protest

Protesters hold pictures of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and Pope Benedict XVI at demonstration against child sexual abuse at the Vatican 25 March 2010/Alessandro Bianchi

The New York Times has unearthed a startling paper trail of 25 letters and memos documenting the way a U.S. priest known to have abused up to 200 deaf boys from about 1952 to 1974 was quietly moved to another diocese and the Vatican resisted attempts to defrock him. Their story on the case of Rev. Lawrence Murphy is here, the paper trail here and our story on the Vatican reaction here. Here’s another story from our Rome bureau on victims demanding that Benedict open all Vatican files on sex abuse cases and defrock all predator priests.

The official Vatican reaction (here in English) is interesting for what it doesn’t say. This is a response to a query from the Times about their story and we don’t know what the questions were. The answers, though, are very narrowly focused. Nowhere is there any reference to the most interesting of the many revelations in the paper trail, i.e. that Pope Benedict, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger heading the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), got at least one letter about this case from the priest’s bishop but apparently didn’t answer it.

Catholic bishops see campaign against Church over child sex abuse

bagnasco

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco and Pope Benedict in Paul VI hall at the Vatican 25 April/Osservatore Romano

The Catholic Church is being unfairly singled out for criticism of sexual abuse of children by priests and will not tolerate campaigns to discredit it, the powerful head of Italy’s bishops said on Monday. Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco spoke to Italian bishops as the Vatican tried to stem a scandal gripping the Church that has swept across Europe.

Speaking two days after Pope Benedict apologised to victims of sexual abuse in Ireland, Bagnasco said the Church was “not afraid of the truth, however painful and detestable” but would not accept any “generalised campaigns to discredit it.”

Pope-victims gap is tip of iceberg of incomprehension in Catholic Church

benedict blesses

Pope Benedict in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, 17 March 2010/Alessandro Bianchi

The wide gap between Pope Benedict’s letter to the Irish and the reaction it received from victims — the subject of my analysis today on the Reuters wire — is the tip of an iceberg of incomprehension. The frank letter went further than any previous papal condemnation of clerical sex abuse of children, an aspect that Benedict’s defenders promptly highlighted, and went so far as to say some bishops had committed “grave errors of judgment” and undermined their own credibility. This is strong stuff indeed, especially from a man like Joseph Ratzinger who has a far loftier image of the Church and its servants (more on that later).

But what was bold for Benedict was still cowardly for his critics, who saw these “grave errors of judgment” as only the starting point and wanted to hear what the pope would do about them. “The smallest steps that are obvious for any reasonable person are made painfully slowly, which ruins the Church’s reputation radically,” the German group Initiative Kirche von Unten (Church from Below Initiative). This and other victims’ groups, backed up in several countries by the media, some politicians and apparently quite a few Catholics in the pews, appreciate the apologies but want to go beyond them.  They want to go up the chain of command and hold those bishops responsible who hushed up abuse cases, moved predator priests around and extracted secrecy deals from frightened victims.