Pope Says "Scandalous" Priests Must Be Confronted

Reuters [Vatican City]
Dowloaded December 17, 2003

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Pope John Paul said on Monday that scandalous behaviour among Catholic priests must be "confronted and corrected" and stressed the need for celibacy.

"(Priests) are called to be detached from material things and to devote themselves to the service of others through the complete gift of self in celibacy," the 83-year-old pope said.

"Scandalous behaviour must at all times be investigated, confronted and corrected," he told an audience with visiting Sudanese bishops in an apparent reference to recent sex scandals that have shaken the Church.

Boston was the centre of a scandal that swept the United States last year after it was discovered that several dioceses had moved priests known to have abused children from parish to parish without alerting the public.

Similar incidents later came to light around the world, causing discontent and accusations of Church cover-ups from many rank-and-file Catholics.

Some priests in the United States reject the pope's rigorous conservatism and have called for celibacy to be made optional and some critics believe celibacy rules were ultimately to blame for the sex scandals.

Church officials insist there is no link between paedophilia and celibacy.

On Saturday, American hip-hop star Lauryn Hill shocked Catholic officials when she alluded to the sex scandals at the recording of a Vatican Christmas concert.

"God has been a witness to the corruption of his leadership, of the exploitation and abuses... by the clergy," she told an audience including top cardinals.


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