The Catholic church in France and England and Wales has declared its support for Pope Benedict XVI, who has been accused of personal involvement in covering up the case of an alleged paedophile priest in America.
It is the latest in a series of revelations about child sex abuse in the Catholic church that have emerged from several countries around the world.
Philip Pullella, the Vatican correspondent for the international news agency Reuters said: “Most victims and victims’ groups have been calling for total transparency and it is not just victims but also church experts and theologians particularly in the United States and Germany etc. They are basically saying: ‘Come clean now, get it all out of the way – do it now and get it out of the way, otherwise, if it comes out just drip, drip, drip it will be agonising for everybody. It will be agonising for the Vatican.”
The latest revelations claim that in 1996 the Pope, who was then Cardinal Ratzinger, knowingly turned a blind eye to the case of Reverend Lawrence Murphy after he was accused of sexually abusing 200 deaf boys at a school in Wisconsin.
Jeff Anderson, a lawyer in the US for those who claim to be abuse victims said: “There is zero confidence, no confidence in any Catholic or by us (sic) in the ability of the clerical culture to handle this problem. They have a known history of self-protection. All roads, and ultimate responsibility for the scandal and the cover-up, lead to Rome.”
Some Vatican observers are calling it the most serious crisis the Pope has faced since he was elected in 2005.
The Vatican has responded saying accusations aimed at Benedict’s handling of sex-abuse cases in the past are an ignoble attempt to smear the pontiff at any cost.