The child sex abuse crimes of individual priests are not the fault of the Roman Catholic Church as a whole, a top Vatican cardinal said overnight, lamenting what he called “unfair attacks”.
“Christians feel rightly hurt when there is an attempt to embroil them in the serious and painful matters of some priests, transforming individual faults and responsibilities into collective ones,” said Angelo Sodano, the dean of the Vatican’s College of Cardinals.
“Now the accusation of paedophilia is being brandished against the Church,” Cardinal Sodano said in an interview with Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano.
He added: “In the face of these unfair attacks we are being told that our strategy is wrong, that we should react differently. The Church has its own style… the only strategy that we have comes from the Gospel”.
Also Tuesday, Vatican Radio warned of what it called an “anti-Catholic media campaign of hatred”.
Referring to graffiti that was scrawled on a church in Italy, an Easter assault on Bishop Felix Genn of Muenster, Germany, and other disturbances at Easter gatherings, the radio said: “Some fear that the anti-Catholic media campaign of hatred could get worse.”
Vatican Radio singled out the Wall Street Journal as going against the trend, saying it had maintained that Pope Benedict had “done more than anyone else” to make priests accountable for their crimes.
Large-scale paedophilia scandals have rocked the churches of Ireland, Austria, the United States and the Pope’s native Germany in recent months.
The pontiff, 82, has himself faced criticism over claims that, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger when he headed the Vatican’s watchdog over morals and doctrinal issues and earlier as the archbishop of Munich, he failed to take action against predator priests.