POPE John Paul II has responded to recent revelations of sexual abuse by clergy, saying the perpetrators of such scandals have betrayed the priesthood and cast a “shadow of suspicion” over the many good priests in the world.
The Pope said the Church was concerned for the victims of such abuse and wanted to handle each case “in truth and justice”. At the same time, he asked for prayers to reawaken the spiritual ideals of the priesthood.
The Pope’s words came at the end of a 19-page Holy Thursday letter to all priests.
At a press conference on March 21 to present the Pope’s text, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos strongly defended the Church’s handling of abuse cases, saying the Church has “never neglected the problem of sexual abuse, even before it ended up on the front pages of international newspapers”.
Although the Pope did not explicitly use the term “sex abuse” in his letter, Vatican officials said his language left no doubt that he was referring to recently divulged cases of alleged sexual misconduct by priests and bishops. Most of the publicised cases have been in the United States, but allegations also have surfaced in France, Ireland, Poland, Australia and other countries.