Pope Urges Abuse Repentance over Change

Sydney Morning Herald
September 8, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI says repentance is more effective than structural change within the Church to counter sexual abuse by priests.

Using an indirect historical analogy, the pope on Wednesday recalled the words of XII century Saint Hildegard, according to whom "a true renewal of the ecclesiastic community is the result less of structural changes than of a sincere spirit of repentance and an active path towards conversion."

Saint Hildergard at the time was fighting the criticism by German sects "proposing a radical reform of the Church in order to fight abuses by clergy," Benedict told 7,000 pilgrims at his weekly general audience.

The pontiff said Hildergard's was "a message that we should never forget."

The Catholic Church has been rocked by a string of recent abuse scandals involving priests, with revelations of the sexual abuse of minors and cover-ups throughout Europe and North America.

In mid-July, the Vatican put in place tougher rules on the handling of sex abuse cases, saying it would accelerate internal investigations and extend by a decade the statute of limitations in such cases.

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