A top Vatican cardinal is calling for "housecleaning" and urging the Roman Catholic Church to be more alert and brave in dealing with cases of clerical sex abuse.
Cardinal Walter Kasper has also defended the pope, saying he was the first to recognize the need for a harsher stance against offenders. He says attacks on Pope Benedict XVI go "beyond any limit of justice and loyalty."
The sex abuse scandal has moved across Europe and into Benedict's native Germany. It has touched the pontiff himself with a case dating to his tenure as archbishop of Munich.
Kasper said in an interview published Saturday in the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera that the church needs to be more vigilant. He said the path the church is on is "irreversible."
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