Numerous Vatican cardinals have spoken out in defense of Pope Benedict XVI, claiming he was wrongfully accused of the sex abuse allegations made against the Catholic Church in recent months and is the target of an anti-Catholic “hate” campaign due to his anti-abortion and anti-gay marriage positions. Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, told the Vatican’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, “The Pope embodies moral truths that aren’t accepted, and the shortcomings and errors of priests are being used as weapons against the church. It’s not a bishop’s fault if one of his priests is stained by grave wrongdoing. And certainly the [Pope] is not responsible,” reported the Telegraph.
According to the Associated Press, Spanish Cardinal Julian Herranz, head of the disciplinary commission for Holy See officials, said on the Vatican radio, “The pope defends life and the family, based on marriage between a man and a woman, in a world in which powerful lobbies would like to impose a completely different” agenda. “Defense of life” is the phrasing used by the Vatican to describe anti-abortion efforts.
Rebecca Voelkel, a Minneapolis, Minnesota-based minister of the United Church of Christ and faith work director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, found the cardinals’ comments to be “diversionary counterattacks” that are offensive both to the victims of sexual abuse by clergymen and to gays and lesbians. “It makes me heartsick,” she told the Associated Press.
The Pope has been criticized for his encouragement of secrecy in regard to child sex abuse allegations in his many years as a Catholic leader: not only in his first five years as Pope, but also in his 20 years as head of the Vatican’s Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith and as Archbishop of Munich in the 1980s, said the Telegraph. Decades of pedophilic activities on the part of clergy have previously been reported in the United States, Canada, and Australia. In recent weeks, thousands of new cases were reported in Germany, Italy, Denmark, and Switzerland.
In Germany, the church’s sexual abuse hotline received almost 2,700 calls in its first three days of operation. Trier Diocese spokesman Stephan Kronenburg told the Associated Press that a team of psychologists and other experts have spoken to almost 400 individuals so far, many of whom “reported cases of sexual abuse.”