April 19, 2005

In clergy sex abuse epicenter, Ratzinger's selection seen to block to reform efforts

Telegram & Gazette

Associated Press Writer

BOSTON— At the epicenter of the clergy sex abuse scandal that brought unprecedented changes and multimillion-dollar settlements to the Roman Catholic church, Massachusetts Catholics were hoping - but not hopeful - that the next pope would help to reform a church some believe is out of step.

The selection of German Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as the next pope was greeted Tuesday as a gain for the status quo and a setback for critics who see the clergy sex abuse crisis as an outgrowth of an unaccountable, topdown hierarchy.

"He tends to regard the abuse crisis as a result of the decadence of American society seeping into the seminaries and into the clergy, with the understanding that the American press exaggerates it because it's interested in sensationalism and titillation," said Stephen Pope, chairman of the theology department at Jesuit-run Boston College.

He said Ratzinger's recent sermons and his service since 1981 as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have earned him a reputation as a fierce critic of efforts to reform church hierarchy.

"I don't think he considers the crisis to be one of power, and a reflection of the need for real changes in the way church decisions are made," Pope said.

Posted by kshaw at April 19, 2005 02:40 PM