“Benedict XVI is a strong Pope,” declared Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone on Tuesday from the southern hemisphere. Beginning a trip in Chile, the prelate told members of the press that claims he and the Pope blocked the case of the Wisconsin priest Fr. Lawrence Murphy are unfounded.
Upon arriving at the airport in Santiago, Chile to begin a nine-day tour of the South American nation, Cardinal Bertone told journalists that “Benedict XVI is a strong Pope, the Pope of the third millenium, the entire Church supports him,” according to Italian bishops' daily newspaper Avvenire. Cardinal Bertone added that this support could be seen on Easter in St. Peter’s Square, which was full of many young people that day.
The prelate attempted to steer conversation back to the moment, saying, “Let’s speak of Chile, let’s speak of the future."
The Vatican's Secretary of State will be in Chile until April 14 to mark the 200th anniversary of the nation, bring comfort after the recent earthquake and to meet with the local Church.
He referred to the Pope as a “great prophet of the third millenium," and denied any involvement of either himself or then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in keeping Fr. Lawrence Murphy from being brought to justice for sexual abuse of minors.
On Monday, Italy’s AGI reprinted a German weekly Die Zeit report that claims Cardinal Bertone “stopped” proceedings in 1998 against the priest because it would have been difficult to maintain “absolute secrecy" or gather proof “without increasing the scandal.”
Cardinal Bertone flatly denied the accusations on Tuesday, “It’s not true, it’s not true. We have documented the contrary and let’s not talk about this subject now, because otherwise we’ll be here all day precisely examining the action” of the congregation in those days.
“Enough, enough on this subject,” he told them.
On Wednesday, Cardinal Bertone will be received at the presidential palace, “La Moneda,” by the newly elected President Sebastian Pinera.
Other events during the tour include the celebration of Mass in the atrium of the cathedral in the devastated city of Concepcion and the delivery of a statue of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, patroness of Chile, which was blessed by the Pope at an audience last month. The statue will be carried to every diocese in the country.