April 23, 2005

Benedict well knows details of abuse cases

VATICAN CITY
Orange County Register

By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
The New York Times

VATICAN CITY For the past four years, the man who is now pope had more responsibility than any other cardinal for deciding whether and how to discipline priests accused of sexually abusing children and teenagers.

On Friday mornings, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger would sit at his desk at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, poring over allegations of abuse sent in by bishops from around the world, two top officials in the office said. He found the cases so disturbing he called the work "our Friday penance."

In 2002, though, then-Cardinal Ratzinger was among officials whose comments appeared to minimize the problem.

"In the United States, there is constant news on this topic, but less than 1 percent of priests are guilty of acts of this type," he said in November 2002. "Therefore, one comes to the conclusion that it is intentional, manipulated, that there is a desire to discredit the church."

But as the cases began to flood in, he learned that the problem was both broader and deeper, according to co-workers, U.S. church officials and the head of an American delegation that visited him to discuss the crisis.

Posted by kshaw at April 23, 2005 07:10 AM