The Vatican on Saturday denounced what it called aggressive attempts to drag Pope Benedict XVI into the spreading scandals of pedophile priests in his German homeland, and contended he has long confronted abuse cases with courage.
In separate interviews, both the Holy See's spokesman and its prosecutor for sex abuse of minors by clergy sought to defend the pope.
After decades of similar scandals in the United States, Ireland and elsewhere, the sex abuse scandal moved closer to Benedict in recent days.
After accusations of abuse connected to the Regensburg boys choir directed by the pope's elder brother for some 30 years, the Munich archdiocese acknowledged Friday that it had transferred a suspected pedophile priest to community work while Benedict was archbishop there.
Criticism has also mounted over a 2001 church directive Benedict wrote while a Vatican cardinal, instructing bishops to keep abuse cases confidential.
"It's rather clear that in the last days, there have been those who have tried, with a certain aggressive persistence, in Regensburg and Munich, to look for elements to personally involve the Holy Father in the matter of abuses," Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi told Vatican Radio.
"For any objective observer, it's clear that these efforts have failed," Lombardi said, reiterating his statement a day earlier noting the Munich diocese has insisted that Benedict wasn't involved in the decision, while archbishop there, to transfer the suspected child abuser.
Lombardi cited an interview with the Italian bishops conference daily Avvenire Saturday, in which the Vatican's prosecutor for sex abuse cases, Monsignor Charles Scicluna, contended that the future pope dealt firmly with the abuse.
"To accuse the current pope of hiding (cases) is false and defamatory," Scicluna said.
As Vatican cardinal in charge of the policy on sex abuse, the future pope, "showed wisdom and firmness in handling these cases," said Scicluna, a Maltese prelate in an interview entitled "The Church is tough on pedophilia."
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