March 26th, 2010
08:25 AM ET

Archbishop of Westminster denounces church abuse

The child abuse committed within the Catholic church and concealment of it is "deeply shocking" and "totally unacceptable," the Catholic archbishop of Westminster wrote in a public letter Friday.

"I am ashamed of what has happened," Archbishop Vincent Nichols wrote in letter published on the Diocese of Westminster's Web site.

Nichols said he feels shame and anger that the church was more concerned with protecting its reputation than believing the allegations of victims.

But he also defended Pope Benedict XVI, pointing out that the pope previously headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in which he led many reforms of church law regarding abuse victims and offenders. "He is not an idle observer," Nichols wrote. "His actions speak as well as his words."

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Filed under: Church Abuse • Vatican • World
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  1. robert mclane

    Hey it was only a few thousand kids. If you were eating on gold plates everyday you would have covered it up too. Lighten up and find a way to move on cause the Pope ain't going nowhere.
    Too many Bishops and Cardinals would go to jail if the truth ever really got out.

    " BLESS ME FATHER, FOR I HAVE SINNED"

    March 27, 2010 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Antoinette Edmonds

    The leaders of the Catholic Church, from Bishops to the Pope have been treating Catholicism as a wotldly business, and not as a Spiritual Teacher for so many centuries, there is no more Spirit of God's Teaching left.
    It is no longer needed and should just realize this and close the dooes, or open as a museum so everyone can see the riches it has stolen over the centuries from the poor Indian cultures starting in South and Central America.
    As for the pervert priests, put them all in prisons where they can no longer harm children, Let them get a taste of their own medicine from the other prisoners.

    March 29, 2010 at 10:42 am | Report abuse |
  3. Ruel de Guzman

    The Pontiff should have (if he still does not have one) a registry of priests sexual offenders that is openly available to all. People have the right to know where these priests live or work. These perverts operating under the veil of Christianity should not be anywhere within 500 miled of any churches or synagogues or schools...that should put them all around 50 miles offshore in the middle of the Atlantic or pacific...a rightful place where they belong.

    March 30, 2010 at 12:33 am | Report abuse |
  4. Tyr Beiron

    It is true that much of the Aztec gold which was brought over to Spain was eventually donated to gild the inside of the famous Dome of St Peter's. It is also accepted among historians that the famous Flavian amphitheater we call the Colosseum was funded by the treasury of the Temple of Jerusalem. But all the physical treasures of the Vatican and art in the Churches is not part of the real wealth of the institution of the Church, but held in stewardship as part of the commonwealth of humanity. Check your facts.

    Neither does the Pope eat from plates of gold: Robert McLane's exaggeration may stem from some deep seated issues or plain ignorance. Much of the Church's charitable work is worth applauding, even if the criminal acts of some of its members (priests, religious or lay) may be unacceptable. It is more important that the Church revises Canon Law to put better strictures in place to deal with this sort of irregularity. Also, it should extend it to lay persons who work within their organisations eg. choir members, ministry leaders etc. who are in positions of trust but have been found to have abused their charges.

    Antoinette Edmonds seem to have gotten much facts wrong about the Church's history and role in the Central Americas. Indeed the Conquistadors wreaked havoc and much of the culture of the indigenous peoples were destroyed. Also, many codices were saved, languages were recorded and some of the earliest work by the missionary priests have helped modern research in understanding those ancient cultures. There are many other good which may not have received the attention of popular media, but are available for those willing to check their facts objectively.

    Rather than throw all wrongdoers into crowded prisons, do we not, as an enlightened society and a compassionate and civilised world, try and better understand criminal pathology? Criminals are even served by the law and society to receive legal aid and medical care. At the least, these priests and any pedophile should firstly have access to the necessary assistance for rehabilitation. It is very unfortunate that anger and bigotry is surfacing when compassion and understanding is needed most.

    Let's right a wrong instead of adding more wrongs to what is already pretty bad.

    March 30, 2010 at 1:46 am | Report abuse |
  5. A. Smith, Oregon

    Just when you thought the Pope couldn't slink any lower!

    In court documents this Tuesday, the Pope's attorneys are filing a defense in their callous attempt to prevent Pope Ratz from being questioned under oath what he knew about serial pedophile clerics who raped and sodomized hundreds of children in the care of the church.

    Pope Ratz's defense team has issued three elements of defense in a ongoing child rape case in Kentucky in Pope Ratz's attempts to avoid being questioned under oath about what he knew and what he did about serial child pedophiles in the Vatican and in parishes around the world.

    1) Claiming Pope Ratz is immune from criminal charges as head of state, although that certainly didn't protect Manual Noriega former president of Panama on far lesser crimes.

    2) The ridiculous claim that Pope Ratz is not the boss of those serial pedophile clerics and clerics of the church are not employees of the Vatican. This is apparently a clear attempt to dodge monetary settlements against Pope Ratz and the Vatican itself.

    3) A claim attempting to dispute that a 1962 Vatican document obtained by a Oregon attorney representing hundreds of children raped in Oregon by Vatican clergy which appears to clearly describe the direct role of the Vatican knowing and moving pedophiles to other unsuspecting parishes where the pedophiles committed multiple new cases of rape, sodomy and sexual abuse on new child victims.

    Three men claiming they were abused by priests brought the suit against the Holy See in 2004, accusing Rome of negligence in failing to alert police or the public about priests who molested children in Kentucky.

    The preview of the legal defense, provided to the AP by a person familiar with the case, was submitted last month in the U.S. District Court in Louisville. Vatican officials declined to comment.

    The case is significant because it's the first among a handful of cases targeting Rome in the United States to reach the stage of determining whether the victims actually have a claim against the Vatican itself.

    Previous cases attempting to implicate the Vatican have failed or are pending at more preliminary stages.

    In the Kentucky suit, the men argued that U.S. diocesan bishops were employees of the Holy See, and that Rome was therefore responsible for their alleged wrongdoing in failing to report abuse.

    They charged that a 1962 Vatican document mandated that bishops not report sex abuse cases to police. The Vatican has argued that there is nothing in the document that precluded bishops from reporting pedophiles to police.

    March 30, 2010 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |