April 21, 2005

George: Pope focused on scandal

Chicago Sun-Times

April 21, 2005


VATICAN CITY -- When Cardinal Francis George stepped forward to greet Pope Benedict XVI for the first time, the newly elected pontiff's first words to Chicago's Roman Catholic archbishop were about the clergy sex abuse scandal that has rocked the American church.

"I went up to him after he was elected, we kiss his hand, and I started speaking in my kind of halting German about promising obedience and love and asking for his prayers in return," George said Wednesday. "And he immediately responded in English -- much better English than I speak German -- that he remembered our conversation and that he would attend to that. So immediately he zeroed in on our last conversation, which was about the sexual abuse scandal."

Not long before the 115 cardinals entered the conclave to elect a new pope on Monday, George said he had had a conversation with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger about the sexual abuse scandal, the new laws that were instated several years ago governing the handling of such cases by the church in the United States, and, as he put it, "the need to maintain the canonical structures that we have used to address the scandal."

The new church laws, which require, among other things, that any Catholic clergyman with even one legitimate accusation of sexual abuse against him be removed from ministry, have to be renewed on a yearly basis.

Posted by kshaw at April 21, 2005 05:00 AM