.- Pope Benedict XVI is fully aware of the sex-abuse scandal in the U.S. Church and was instrumental in the Vatican’s response to the crisis more than a year ago, when he served in the curia as Pope John Paul II’s key aide, said the USCCB’s former review board president, Judge Anne Burke.
Burke was chosen by the U.S. bishops to investigate the priest sex-abuse scandal on the review board. In an interview with CBS, Burke said she traveled to Rome in January 2004 to meet with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and to offer Vatican officials the full story of the sex-abuse scandal.
Cardinal Ratzinger spent nearly three hours with Burke, who said she thinks he was “surprised at what we had to tell him.”
One month later, her committee released its report and recommendations. In a March 2004 letter, Cardinal Ratzinger echoed the committee’s suggestion that the bishops examine their role in the scandal. Pope John Paul II followed up in April, urging the bishops to start listening to lay people the way Cardinal Ratzinger had listened to Burke.
“What better position can we be in the Catholic Church today? To know that the [current] Pope read [the report], talked to us and followed through,” Burke told CBS.
Burke speculates that January meeting may have laid the foundation for the conversation Pope Benedict had with Francis Cardinal George last month about the sex-abuse scandal and the bishops’ authority to deal with abusive priests.
The U.S. bishops are expected to meet and discuss this issue at a Chicago meeting next month.