Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
April 5, 2010
Vatican visitors say scandal coverage should be fair
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE
VATICAN CITY - As the media around the world continued to write about the Catholic clerical abuse scandal, several visitors to the Vatican said they thought it was right that newspapers and television cover the story, although some thought the coverage had been exaggerated.
Corine, who did not want to give her last name, is a 38-year-old Catholic from the Guadeloupe archipelago in the Caribbean and has been living in Ireland for the past six years.
Interviewed in St. Peter's Square March 30, she said, "At the beginning, we felt the media was just attacking the Church" and ignoring all the good that Catholic priests and faithful have done over the centuries.
But then, Corine said, it became obvious that some priests really did abuse children and "destroyed their lives."
Corine said the actions of the abusive priests in Ireland were "a real betrayal - within the Church we've been betrayed. They abused and then they went to the altar to celebrate Mass. It's a betrayal."
In Ireland, the clerical sexual abuse scandal was the object of an independent report released in late November, which concluded Church leaders were often more interested in preserving the Church's reputation than in helping victims.
After meetings with Irish bishops in December and February, Pope Benedict wrote a pastoral letter to Irish Catholics in March apologizing for the actions of abusive priests and calling for acts of repentance and for continued strengthening of child protection measures.
At almost the same time, revelations emerged about clerical sex abuse cases in Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Germany, including in the Archdiocese of Munich when it was headed by the future Pope Benedict.
Iskander Dib, a 31-year-old Catholic from Graz, Austria, said he didn't know if the media coverage was fair, especially regarding stories trying to tie the pope to the scandal, "but he is such a public figure, he should be used to criticism.
Dib thought it was unfair for the media to be shocked at stories that corporal punishment was used on boys in Catholic boarding schools, including the school attended by members of the Regensburg cathedral boys' choir directed by the pope's brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger.
At least through the 1970s, corporal punishment was a common practice "and parents sent their children to those schools knowing that," Dib said.
"The real scandal is that sexual abuse was hidden and the Church was not on the side of the victims. This is changing, and that's good," he said.
Sonja Pleschberger, a young Catholic from Salzburg, Austria, said she thinks the Church is coming to grips with the crisis and learning to protect children is "a process. It's good the Church is starting now."
Alfonso, a Roman who didn't want to give his full name, was reading a newspaper in St. Peter's Square March 30. He said, "It is right that these things come out into the open, but it shouldn't be an attack on the pope.
"He must defend the Church, but not cover up the truth," said Alfonso, who is Catholic.
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