Church in the World
Beleaguered Castrillón implicates Pope Robert Mickens
- 1 May 2010
CARDINAL DARÍO Castrillón Hoyos has claimed that Pope Benedict XVI, as cardinal prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), was involved in a 2001 decision to praise a French bishop for protecting a priest convicted of raping a boy and sexually assaulting 10 others.
According to the Associated Press, Cardinal Castrillón told Colombia’s RCN radio on 22 April that the decision to send a congratulatory letter to Bishop Pierre Pican of Bayeux-Lisieux was the product of a high-level meeting that included the then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
“It was a meeting of cardinals,” he said. “Therefore the current Pope [Benedict XVI], who at the time was a cardinal, was present. The Pope [John Paul II] was never at those meetings. However, the Holy Father was indeed present when we spoke about this matter in the council, and the cardinals ruled,” Cardinal Castrillón reportedly said.
It is the second time that the Colombian-born cardinal who was Prefect for the Congregation for Clergy in 2001 has claimed that Pope John Paul authorised his letter to Bishop Pican but the first time that he has attempted to implicate the former Cardinal Ratzinger in the controversial decision. Cardinal Ratzinger’s attendance at such a meeting would be normal. He and Cardinal Castrillón would have met regularly at the time as fellow members of several Vatican congregations.
The Vatican have continued to refute any claims that Pope Benedict was complicit in cover-ups, insisting that he has done more than anyone else in the Church to deal openly and swiftly with sexual abuse by priests. Soon after the Castrillón letter surfaced the Vatican spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, produced a statement suggesting that the letter confirmed the wisdom of the decision to give Cardinal Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith exclusive responsibility for investigating clerical abuse cases in 2001.
“This document is another confirmation of how timely was the unification of the treatment of cases of sexual abuse of minors on the part of members of the clergy under the competence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,” said the statement.
On Saturday Cardinal Castrillón was due to celebrate the old rite Mass held at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, DC, but was replaced days ahead of the event as news emerged of the letter he had sent to Bishop Pican. Bishop Edward Slattery, of Tulsa, Oklahoma, who is familiar with the ritual, filled in at the last minute as celebrant.
Another prelate to be tarnished by the abuse scandal is Roger Vangheluwe, 73, who stunned Belgium on 23 April by resigning for sexually abusing a young male nephew “before and a little bit after” he became Bishop of Bruges in 1984.
Meanwhile, Bishop Anders Arborelius of Stockholm said he is prepared to resign over the Church’s failure to investigate abuse allegations made in 1990. One of the alleged victims claimed the Church failed to take her allegations seriously for the past two decades despite meeting with Bishop Arborelius in 2003 and having previously contacted the previous bishop, Hubertus Brandenburg, and another senior figure in Sweden’s Catholic Church.
The crisis threatens to reach catastrophic proportions. A staggering 6.25 million German Catholics, that is a quarter of the German Church, are expected to leave the Church this year because of the scandal, according to a poll in the [ITAL]Frankfurter Rundschau[UNITAL] daily. This will cost the Church millions of euros as people leaving opt out of paying church tax (8 per cent of income tax). In Austria 30,000 Catholics have already left the Church this year, compared to 21,000 by this time last year – which was a record year.
The Pope on Sunday thanked all those who are “dedicated to the prevention” of “violence, abuse and indifference” against children. Paying tribute to a Sicilian child-protection charity, Meter, he thanked “parents, teachers and many priests, sisters and catechists”.