Under fire over letter, Cardinal Castrillón withdraws from celebrating D.C. Mass

2 15 2010 Hoyos Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos

Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos will not celebrate a Solemn High Mass in honor of Pope Benedict’s pontifical anniversary, following recent reports that the prelate endorsed a clerical sex abuse cover up.

Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos of Colombia was originally asked to participate in marking the fifth anniversary of the inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI, by celebrating a traditional Latin Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. on April 24.

However, last week the French magazine Golias published a letter from Sept. 8, 2001 that featured the cardinal applauding Bishop Pierre Pican for refusing to report an abusive priest to the civil authorities. The priest, Abbot Renè Bissey, was sentenced in 1998 to 18 years in prison for his abuses of minors, while Bishop Pican later received a three month sentence for withholding information.

Cardinal Castrillón has since claimed that the late John Paul II approved of his letter. On April 17, Reuters reported the cardinal as saying that the “The Holy Father authorized me to send this letter to all bishops in the world and publish it on the internet.”

In response to the recently reported scandal, the Paulus Institute, which  is coordinating the Mass, said in a April 21 statement that after “consultation” with the cardinal, both have “agreed to seek another celebrant.”

“This action will help maintain the solemnity, reverence and beauty of the Mass,” the statement added.

“We are in the process of seeking another Bishop to celebrate a Pontifical Solemn Mass on Saturday and are confident that one will agree,” continued the statement. “However, in any event, a beautiful, dignified Traditional Latin Mass will be celebrated at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception on Saturday at 1PM and will be the first time in nearly a half century this has occurred.”

Paul King, president of the Paulus Institute, reiterated to the New York Times on Tuesday that both the cardinal and the institute agreed on the decision to find another celebrant. King expressed his concerns regarding security issues as well as the potential for the recent reports to distract from the event.

“It becomes the center of attention, when the center of attention should be at the main altar,” he said.

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