An “exaggerated media onslaught” against the Roman Catholic Church over clerical sexual abuse is being “orchestrated in hell,” a Vatican official says.
Speaking to Newsmax today on condition of anonymity, the official stressed that, although the allegations of clerical sexual abuse against children and young adults are undoubtedly serious and deplorable, “the numbers involved are a very small percentage.”
“I’m not saying sin isn’t sin, I’m not denying what priests have done, but the media has just taken it out of all context,” he said. “All of this, I’m convinced, is orchestrated in hell for the punishment of priests.”
He gave as an example calls for Cardinal Sean Brady, the head of the church in Ireland, to resign after allegations that had allowed a pedophile priest to remain in his post in the 1970s. “They’re out for blood,” he said, adding that much more is known today about how to deal with these matters and that church leaders “were acting on the best advice they had at the time.”
Meanwhile, the Vatican has said that Pope Benedict XVI also has been implicated falsely in the abuse scandal in Germany, with media reports accusing him of trying to cover up priestly child abuse when he was archbishop of Munich and Freising from 1977 to 1981.
Such accusations are “false and calumnious,” the Vatican said.
Some have voiced suspicions about the timing of these accusations, which have come to light recently in Germany, Ireland, Austria, and the Netherlands. They speculate it might partly be a bid to discredit the church, undermine the papacy, and divert attention from the U.S. bishops’ concerns about the healthcare bill Congress is considering.
Senior prelates, meanwhile, have been rallying to the church’s defense in recent days, saying there is a bid to undermine it. As well as criticizing the media for exaggerating the problem, the Vatican has said it is unfair to single out the church for child abuse, which also occurs in secular institutions.
In an interview Saturday with the Italian bishops’ newspaper, Avvenire, Msgr. Charles Scicluna, the Vatican’s “promoter of justice,” said the church’s “condemnation of this kind of crime has always been firm and unequivocal.”
Scicluna conceded that some bishops had been “too indulgent towards this sad phenomenon,” perhaps partly out of a “misdirected desire to protect the good name of the institution.”
However, he said any secrecy in the cases has not been to hide facts, but to protect “the good name of all the people involved; first and foremost, the victims themselves, then the accused priests who have the right — as everyone does — to the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.”
During the past nine years, the Vatican has dealt with 3,000 cases of crimes diocesan and religious priests have committed during the past 50 years, Scicluna said.
“About 60 percent of the cases chiefly involved sexual attraction towards adolescents of the same sex, another 30 percent involved heterosexual relations, and the remaining 10 percent were cases of pedophilia in the true sense of the term,” he said.
These 300 cases, he continued, “are of course too many, but it must be recognized that the phenomenon is not as widespread as has been believed.”
The Vatican official, speaking anonymously to Newsmax, said he believes an “onslaught” and a “terrible persecution” of the church is taking place, particularly against clergy. More Christian compassion needs to be shown to falsely accused priests caught up in such scandals — and even those who are convicted.
“Even the perpetrators deserve mercy,” he said, “but one never hears a word about them. That struck me from day one.”
He pointed out that as a result of the exaggerated coverage of this issue over the years, which he said is “all artificial,” innocent priests are suffering injustices and “now dare not touch children.” The church, he feared, is too preoccupied in being seen to be exacting justice rather than making sure the well-being of its clergy is properly safeguarded.
Earlier today, the Pope revealed he will sign a pastoral letter Friday dealing with the abuse crisis in Ireland. He said he hopes it will help the process of “repentance, healing and renewal.”
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