Saturday, April 19, 2008
SEXUAL ABUSE CRISIS OVERSHADOWED POPE'S VISIT
From a New York Times article sent in by a reader...
After three days in which Pope Benedict XVI has persistently addressed the scandal of child sexual abuse by priests, a top Vatican official said on Friday that the church was considering changes to the canon laws that govern how it handles such cases.
The official, Cardinal William J. Levada, would not specify which canons were under reconsideration. But he suggested that they related to the church’s statute of limitations, saying that his office has frequently had to judge allegations from years before because the victims “don’t feel personally able to come forward” until they are more mature.
The comments by the cardinal, who heads the Vatican office that rules on cases of sexual abuse that are forwarded to Rome by bishops throughout the world, were apparently spontaneous, and came in response to questions from three reporters as he left a luncheon in New York given by Time magazine.
The Vatican has been reluctant to focus attention on the scandal until this trip. But in what appears to be a carefully scripted effort, Benedict brought the scandal up on each of the first three days of his trip, his first visit to the United States as pope, underscoring the message that he understands the lingering bitterness over the church’s handling of the issue.
“It has overshadowed the trip,” said the Rev. Joseph M. McShane, the president of Fordham University, who attended the luncheon with Cardinal Levada. “None of us expected it, but everyone is grateful that he did. What he realized is that this is a pastoral visit and he must be pastor to those who are hurt most — and that is the victims.”