April 19, 2005

New Pope Shelved Sex Abuse Claim, Accuser Says


By Alistair Bell

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A former trainee priest who has accused the founder of an influential Catholic order of sexual abuse said on Tuesday that new Pope Benedict XVI deliberately shelved a probe into his claims for six years.

Jose Barba is one of eight ex-members of the Rome-based Legion of Christ, most of them Mexicans, who accuse the order's founder, Marcial Maciel, of sexually abusing them from the 1940s through the 1960s.

The allegations are too old to be investigated under criminal law but the nine brought a suit against Maciel, 84, under the Vatican's canonical law in 1998.

The case was filed at the Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger who was elected Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday.

Barba, spokesman for the accusers, says the claims were hushed up because Maciel and his ultra-conservative order were close to Pope John Paul II.

"The question is: Was Cardinal Ratzinger totally and solely responsible? I think that to a great extent he was because it was his department," said Barba, now 68 and a professor of Latin American studies at Mexico City's ITAM university.

Posted by kshaw at April 19, 2005 08:23 PM