Saturday, April 3, 2010

Obamas Easter Message 2010

Pope to address world at Easter under cloud of scandal

VATICAN CITY — The pope celebrates Easter mass and makes his traditional Urbi et Orbi message "to the city and the world" Sunday with the Catholic Church shaken internationally by paedophile scandals.

As Christians prepared to celebrate the day when Christ is believed to have been resurrected, the top bishops in both Belgium and Germany issued forthright condemnations of the church's role in covering up child abuse within its ranks.

And in the United States, fresh allegations emerged in court documents late Saturday that a cardinal there had reassigned a US priest and alleged child molester in the 1990s without warning his parishioners.

US Cardinal William Levada, a staunch defender of Pope Benedict XVI in the abuse scandal gripping the Vatican, was cited in court documents from an action brought by victims of paedophile priests.

In sworn testimony in 2006 about his time as archbishop of Portland, Oregon (1986-1995), Levada said he had reassigned a priest implicated in child abuse allegations after he had undergone therapy.

In the testimony, Levada was asked if he had warned parishioners about the Oregon priest's past. Levada answered no, although he had fully briefed the pastor of the parish and assigned him as the priest's supervisor.

A transcript of Levada's testimony was provided to AFP by a lawyer representing victims of child abuse by Oregon priests.

Belgium's Andre Joseph Leonard, archbishop of Mechelen-Brussel, criticised the church for its past mismanagement of the crisis.

"With a guilty silence, it often gave preference to the reputation of certain men of the Church over the honour of the abused children," said an advance copy of his Easter sermon.

His Easter homily cited a recent letter by Pope Benedict XVI to Catholics in Ireland apologising for abuse there as an example of what needed to be done.

Germany's Archbishop Robert Zollitsch wrote in his Easter message: "Today particularly we must set out together and examine inconceivable events, awful crimes, the Church's dark aspects as well as our shadowy sides."

The message, on his diocese website, added: "The Church must not be inactive: we need a new beginning."

But the scandal has been gaining momentum, putting the Vatican on the defensive, with Pope Benedict XVI's personal preacher drawing criticism on Saturday for likening attacks on the pontiff to anti-Semitism.

Jewish groups and those representing victims of abuse by Roman Catholic priests condemned Father Raniero Cantalamessa for quoting the comments, which he said were made in a letter from a Jewish friend, in his Good Friday sermon.

The Vatican distanced itself from the very comments, but defended the preacher's intentions.

"Comparing the attacks on the pope for the paedophile scandal with anti-Semitism is not the line that is followed by the Holy See," spokesman Federico Lombardi said.

But the row cast another shadow over what is supposed to be the most joyous day in the Christian calendar, marking the resurrection of Christ.

The child abuse scandal has unleashed harsh critiques of the Roman Catholic Church's handling of the scourge -- even from other top religious leaders.

Rowan Williams, spiritual leader of the world's 70 million Anglicans, apologised for comments recorded during the week in which he said the Irish Catholic Church had lost "all credibility".Related article:Anglican leader regrets Irish Catholic comments

Diarmuid Martin, the archbishop of Dublin, said he was "stunned" by Williams's comments.

The pope himself faces allegations that, as archbishop of Munich and later as the Vatican's chief morals enforcer, he helped to protect predator priests.

Leading prelates have rallied around the pope, and the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano has published messages of support from around the world.

In its Sunday edition, the newspaper denounced the "slanderous attacks and the defamation campaign surrounding the drama of abuse by priests."

It cited the archbishop of Paris, Andre Vingt-Trois, calling it "an offensive aiming to destabilise the pope and through him the Church."

1 comment:


    Rev. Cantalamessa, you really messed up today. I know you didn’t mean to insult anyone when you compared the current attacks on the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict with the persecution of the Jews, but you did, and you did it big time. It seems that you are ignoring a few important points: first of all, there is no comparison because the Church persecuted the Jews for no other reason than their Jewishness, which the Church found intolerable, while the current attacks on the Church and the Pope—I wouldn’t quite call it “persecution”—are well deserved as the Church seems to have an endemic child abuse problem compounded with on obstruction of justice problem. This is not the first time this happens. It’s best to not even talk about the Middle Ages. Hopefully the Pope will make use of his power and swiftly remove any offenders from the Church and hand them over to the civil authorities for prosecution, as would be the case with any child molester. The attacks on the Pope are well deserved too. He was responsible for some of these cases before he became pope and he not only did not punish these priests, he moved them to other places where they were able to molest children again! So, it’s hard to feel sorry for the Church or the Pope these days. You also seem to have forgotten that of the 365 days of the year, this is the least appropriate day to make such comparison with the persecution of the Jews. Should I remind you of the forced conversion of the Jews, instituted by the Church centuries ago? Should I remind you of the incitement to violence in the faithful every Good Friday after sermons and Passion Plays? Should I remind you of the accusation of deicide which prompted countless acts of Christian violence toward Jews? Or the Good Friday prayer which asked God to lift the veil of the blind, perfidious Jews?

    It makes me wonder about your boss, Pope Benedict, too, because one needs to ask oneself the uncomfortable question of why he didn’t stand up as you were making this innapropriate comparison and distance himself and the Church from your comments. But then, maybe one should not be so surprised about this given his recent track record regarding the sexual predator priests, or his treatment of the whole Bishop Williamson affair, or his reinstating the Good Friday prayer referenced above, or his rush canonization process for the problematic wartime Pope Pius XII. In a way, seeing Pope Benedict looking at the floor today as you uttered those words reminded me of his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, who also stood silently by the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad in 2001 as Assad let loose an antisemitic rant that was broadcast in the entire Christian world. Assad, like the Catholic Church before him, presented Jews as enemies of God. Also like Christians before him, Assad used the Christian blood libel of Jews as Christ-killers. Pope John Paul II did not see fit to stop him right then and there and thus appeared to implicitly accept Assad’s vitriolic statements.

    Perhaps this issue of silent popes is also endemic in the Church. After all, Pope Pius XI and his successor Pope Pius XII both stood by silently as the Nazis slowly and inexorably dehumanized, demonized, and exterminated millions of Jews during the Second World War.

    To wrap it up, Rev. Cantalamessa, as the sole and direct preacher to the pope I think you yourself need some advising. I would encourage you to think about these things, and next time you sit with Pope Benedict advise him better.

    Gabriel Wilensky

    Six Million Crucifixions:
    How Christian Teachings About Jews Paved the Road to the Holocaust
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