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Pope speaks out on 'grave Scandal' of clergy sex abuse

Pope John Paul II yesterday broke his silence on the sex abuse cases rocking the Church, saying the "grave scandal" was casting a "dark shadow of suspicion" over all priests.

In his traditional Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday, the pope said "as priests we are personally and profoundly afflicted by the sins of some of our brothers who have betrayed the grace of ordination."

He said they had succumbed "to the most grievous forms" of what he called, using the Latin phrase, "mystery of evil."

"Grave scandal is caused, with the result that a dark shadow of suspicion is cast over all the other fine priests who perform their ministry with honesty and integrity and often with heroic self-sacrifice," the pope said.

John Paul said the Church "shows her concern for the victims and strives to respond in truth and justice to each of these painful situations."

It was the first time the pope publicly addressed the issue since widescale accusations of sexual misconduct by priests surfaced in the United States in recent months. The accusations have led to the resignation of one bishop, from Palm Beach, Florida, and tarnished the reputation of Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston for failing to take action against a child-molesting priest.

John Paul has been described as particularly saddened by sexual harassment allegations leveled against the archbishop of Poznan in the pope's native Poland. Archbishop Juliusz Paetz, who worked with John Paul at the Vatican and was sent by him to Poland in 1982, denied the allegations in a letter read in parishes last Sunday.

Pope's Letter to Priests for Holy Thursday 2002


22 Mar 2002