Punish Abusers, but Demand Evidence: Cardinal Castrillon

Catholic World News
November 7, 2006

Rome, Nov. 07 ( - The Church will punish pedophile priests, but will not act simply on the basis of rumors, according to Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos (bio - news).

In a conversation with the "Rome Reports" television news agency, the outgoing prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy said that the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests is a real problem, but one that has been "inflated by certain people who have an interest" in exaggerating the scope of the offenses.

The Church will show no partiality toward priests who have molested children, the Colombian cardinal assured "Rome Reports," adding that the Vatican is not afraid of exploring the facts and rendering an accurate judgment. What does concern Church leaders, he said, is "the deformation of public opinion."

Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos said that he has "confidence in the clergy of the world," and said that "if this moment that is so difficult for the world, the clergy is rich in virtue, even if unfortunately we have to regret some mistakes." He said that the misdeeds of clergy should be kept in perspective, recognizing that only a minority are involved. "Show me a family that doesn't have problems," he said. The cardinal was reacting to the statement made by Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) in an October 28 meeting with visiting bishops from Ireland. The Pope had told the bishops that the Church must regain public confidence and repair the damage done by sexual abuse.

Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos has consistently urged reporters to take a more balanced approach to accusations of sexual abuse by the clergy. In 2002, when the leaders of the US hierarchy were summoned to Rome for a special meeting on the sex-abuse scandal, the Colombian prelate drew protests from American journalists when he seemed to imply that the media had exaggerated the severity of the problem.


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