May 21, 2006

Pope orders top priest to quit over child abuse charges

Taipei Times

Sunday, May 21, 2006,Page 6

Advertising Pope Benedict threw his authority behind a new and uncompromising approach to sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church on Friday when he ordered one of its most influential figures, who faces multiple allegations, to give up his ministry and retire to a life of "prayer and repentance."

A statement issued by the Vatican said 86-year-old Father Marcial Maciel, the founder of the ultra-orthodox Legion of Christ, had only escaped a full trial in an ecclesiastical court because of his "advanced age [and] frail health."

Father Maciel's case had been repeatedly shelved by Church leaders over a period of 30 years.

The statement made a point of noting that the sanctions against the priest had been personally endorsed by the pontiff.

His landmark ruling astonished and delighted campaigners for the victims of abuse. It represented a clear departure from the timorous policy of John Paul II, and appeared to be a first step toward fulfilling the new pontiff's vow to sweep "filth" from the Church.

Posted by kshaw at May 21, 2006 06:28 AM