Rome, Italy, Jun 29, 2009 / 10:55 am America/Denver (CNA).
The prefect for the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Claudio Hummes, said last week pedophilia is a “terrible crime” that affects only a small percentage of priests, adding that “there is no room in the priestly ministry for people who have committed these crimes.”
In an interview in Rome with the magazine “Vida Nueva,” the cardinal pointed out that the Church “cannot close her eyes” to these problems, but at the same time he emphasized, “There is no room in the priestly ministry for people who have committed these crimes.”
“The Church cannot accept cases of pedophilia. Those guilty must be punished both through civil and canon law,” he said, clarifying however that most of the clergy “have nothing to do with these problems.”
The Church “must react and not accept” that priests have this image, he continued, which is created “with a very strong, negative preconception that humiliates and wounds the vast majority of priests.”
In addition, Cardinal Hummes also addressed the question of celibacy, which a certain percentage of priests “do not respect.” He stressed that the majority of priests are “dignified and honorable men” who “fight for human dignity, human rights, social justice and solidarity with the poor.”
Year for Priests
Regarding the Year for Priests decreed by Benedict XVI, Cardinal Hummes said it “has come at an appropriate moment.” The cardinal called on priests to live their mission and vocation “in the prevailing culture of the West, which is against religion and believes it should be relegated to the person’s private sphere.”
In any case, he added, “We ought not to demonize today’s culture and form ghettos,” but rather, ever greater efforts should be made to evangelize society, “as is the case with any other culture.”
“We must confront it with joy, determination, conviction and enthusiasm. Even the post-modern man and woman, estranged from religion, can embrace Jesus Christ,” he said.
Cardinal Hummes said he hopes the Year for Priests will help increase the number of vocations. “If we are able to offer priests better conditions so that they can be happier, young people who feel the call to the priesthood will be more decisive,” he said.