Pope Benedict XVI is leading a “self-examination” of the Church to rid it of the individuals who are responsible for perpetrating or mishandling cases of pedophilia, according to the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) president, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.
Expressing his “shame and remorse” for the victims’ experiences, Cardinal Bagnasco vowed to pursue, “inside and outside the Church,” those who failed to bring sex abusers to justice.
During an interview published on Sunday in Italy’s ilsole24ore.com, he was asked for his perspective on the recent media frenzy for and against the actions of the Holy Father and others Church leaders in their handling of sexual abuse of children by priests.
“Pedophilia ... is an odious crime,” he said, adding that “it’s also a scandalously serious sin” which in all cases is “aberrant” as it "betrays the educational relationship." When it involves a consecrated person, he said, “it acquires an even greater seriousness.”
In confronting cases of clerical sex abuse, Cardinal Bagnasco commended the “severe action” of the Pope in leading a self-examination of the Church that aims “to purify itself of single members that have painfully obfuscated its image and credibility.”
The president of the CEI acknowledged that these “cleaning” efforts which cooperate with the civil courts, “cannot erase the suffering and the disenchantment of the victims: children and youth that were betrayed in their spontaneous trust."
“To each of the violated persons, to their families,” he added, “I feel shame and remorse, especially in those cases in which they weren’t listened to by (those) who should have immediately intervened.”
The interview also included Cardinal Bagnasco’s responses to a great variety of questions on contemporary themes that affect Church and society in Italy. Among other things, he spoke of the important role that schools play in integrating immigrants, of the economic crisis which shows a social and cultural crisis, and of the “enormous potential” new media has for connecting people.
Cardinal Bagnasco also expressed the continued support of the bishops and “the entire Italian Church” for the efforts of Benedict XVI in the face of the "gratuitous and defamatory accusations” directed at him.