By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Pope Benedict XVI may use the occasion of the June climax of the International Year for Priests as the time to make the first general apology for the abuse of children and minors by Roman Catholic priests.
London’s Independent is reporting that instead of issuing apologies for certain cases of pedophilia or for specific countries where it occurred, what is being prepared now is a public atonement for the extent to which pedophilia has put a black mark on the modern history of the Church.
“It could be considered comparable to the historic step that the previous pope, John Paul II, took in apologising to the Jews for historic church anti-Semitism and for misdeeds during the Crusades,” the Independent is reporting.
This act of penance by the Pope will take place during the planned visit to Rome of thousands of priests and deacons from June 9-11, an event that will be the climax of a year-long effort to encourage priests in their vocation and reach out to young men who may feel a call to the priesthood.
“Vatican sources said the Pope considers the jamboree with the priests in June an appropriate occasion for him to lead the whole church in a ‘Day of Request for Pardon’ of the victims and their families for the wrong done by a small percentage of priests in abusing children and minors in many countries, and the wrong done by bishops in covering up that abuse or protecting the predators,” the Independent writes.
A respected Vatican watcher added: “It is clear that Benedict has been reflecting and seeking to understand the abuse scandal with the eyes of faith. He seems to be developing a theological and spiritual frame for reading and dealing with this shameful and humbling reality in the life of the church in the 21st century and discerning an exit strategy from it.”
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