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Pope condemns 'appalling sin' of sex abuse priests

The Pope bluntly said sex abuse by priests in the United States "was rightly considered a crime by society" telling American cardinals yesterday that there is no place in the priesthood for abusers.

"To the victims and their families, wherever they may be, I express my profound sense of solidarity and concern," he told the closed-door meeting in a speech in English released by the Vatican.

It was the Pope's strongest statement since allegations of sex abuse by priests began pouring out in January and his first words of solidarity with the victims. The meeting opened a day after a report that a move was afoot by fellow cardinals to force the resignation of Boston's Cardinal Bernard Law, accused of mishandling sex abuse cases.

The Pope did not address that issue directly, but he did say "bishops and superiors are concerned above all else with the spiritual good of souls".

He added: "People need to know that there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young."

While at the Vatican, cardinals are to discuss national guidelines for dealing with cases of abuse, which are to be approved by the American bishops when they meet in Dallas in June.

"I ask Catholics to stay close to their priests and bishops and support them with their prayers at this difficult time," the Pope said.

No place in church for child abusers: Pope (ABC)
Pope blunt before U.S. cardinals (MSNBC)
Pope condemns US church sex abuse (BBC)
Text of Pope's Speech to U.S. Cardinals (AP)
Meeting on Sex Scandals Likely Won't Bring a Quick Fix (Zenit)
Vatican Fears Scandal Will Drop Aid (AP)
U.S. Catholics and Vatican Face a Cultural Chasm in Coping With Sex Scandal (LA Times)
Pope says there's no place in priesthood for sex abusers (AP)
U.S. Catholics applaud pope's statement (AP)
8 points Rome needs to consider (Crisis Magazine)
US cardinals in two-day meeting with Pope over church's sexual abuse scandal (Irish Times)
St. Pat Msgr. Hits Gays On Scandal (NY Daily News)
Vatican-U.S. summit participants debate reassigning abuser-priests (CNS)

The Times (London)

24 Apr 2002