April 25, 2005

Pray for me, says Pope at mass in St Peter's Square

Belfast Telegraph

By Peter Popham in Rome

25 April 2005
At a grand mass in St Peter's Square yesterday morning, during which he was formally installed in office, Pope Benedict XVI pressed ahead with the message of meekness and openness that has marked his first days as pontiff.

And while meeting foreign dignitaries who had attended the ceremony, the Pope told Irish President Mary McAleese: "I will pray for the people of Ireland and I hope that they will pray for me."

The Pontiff also said he had been a visitor to the national seminary in Maynooth and that it was "a wonderful university". ...

But it has not taken long for one of the darkest legacies of John Paul II's reign to come back to haunt the new pope. As reported in The Independent on Friday, a Mexican professor who along with eight other men has alleged that a priest who was a close friend of the late pope, Fr Marcial Maciel, sexually abused him when he was a child, claimed that Cardinal Ratzinger had failed for seven years to investigate the charges. Professor Jose Barba believes that when Cardinal Ratzinger finally opened an inquiry, last December, it was in order to remove possible controversy from his attempt to become Pope.

Fr Maciel retired in January as leader of the ultraconservative order he founded, the Legionaries of Christ. But yesterday an authority on the paedophilia scandal in the United States, Jason Berry, saw a glimmer of hope in Cardinal Ratzinger's belated decision to act. "As a theologian of fundamentalist convictions," Berry wrote in The New York Times, "[Cardinal Ratzinger] may have felt he had to confront a crisis tearing at the central nervous system of the church." Berry cited a sermon the cardinal gave on Good Friday, eight days before John Paul II's death, in which he said: "How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to [God]."

Posted by kshaw at April 25, 2005 06:26 AM