Middle East bishops emphasize Pope’s transparency in handling abuse cases


In response to the media campaign designed to portray Pope Benedict as covering up cases of sexual abuse by priests, various bishops in the Middle East have expressed their solidarity with the Holy Father.

In an interview with SIR news agency, Archbishop Emil Nona of Mosul said that in Iraq, “The faithful are convinced that all of this is propaganda against the Church, designed to smear her in the eyes of the world. There is certainly sorrow over what has happened,” he added. “For our part, we are explaining what the Pope has said about this scandal as well as the measures adopted to shed light on the different cases which are being addressed with firmness, transparency and severity.”

“The grave errors committed by a few cannot cast doubt on everything that the Church has always done in support of children, young people and those who are most vulnerable,” Mosul’s archbishop emphasized.

Chaldean Bishop Michel Kassarji of Beirut said, “A scandal that is shaking the Church must not be used to discredit her... The Church, with the Pope at the helm, is confronting this scandal with firmness and it is good that people know this,” Bishop Kassarji affirmed.

“Trust in the Church must not be undermined by incidents like these that do not involve everyone,” he added. “Therefore, the testimony of intense prayer has never been more important than right now.”

The Chaldean Bishop Antoine Audo of Alep, Syria made remarks saying, “We are witnessing a grave form of anti-Catholic propaganda that creates difficulties and must be confronted. We are comforted by the firmness of Benedict XVI in addressing this issue. For our part we are doing everything possible to correctly inform the faithful, even when it is difficult due to the fact that we do not have access to the media.”

Msgr. Salim Sayegh, the Latin Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem in Jordan, said that the Catholic Church alone “has the courage to look inside herself to repair the mistakes.”

“We are close to Benedict XVI at this time in which he and the Church are being attacked,” he said.  “We have profound confidence in all the measures adopted to prevent similar things from happening again.”

“Here in Jordan,” he continued, “the faithful are close to the Pontiff and are determined to bear witness to their faith. We believe this is the best answer to those, including fundamentalist groups, who want to take advantage of these incidents.”

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