A confession of the Catholic Church’s guilt and a plea for forgiveness have been made in a key Holy Week mass devoted to the theme of child abuse.
Vienna’s gothic St. Stephen’s Cathedral was the setting for an emotional sermon given by Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn.
With Austria one of several European countries shaken by revelations of sexual abuse by priests, he did not mince his words.
“We confess that we darkened and betrayed the name of God, which is love,” the Cardinal said.
“Some of us spoke of the love of God, and did evil to those who most needed protection.”
His call for the Catholic Church as a whole to accept its collective responsibility came as a public apology was being made in Switzerland. Expressing shame, Roman Catholic bishops there said they had failed to recognise the scale of the problem and urged victims to go to the police.
“We humbly admit to have underestimated the magnitude of the situation,” said Norbert Brunner, President of the Swiss Bishops’ Conference. “Officials in dioceses and religious orders have made mistakes. We ask forgiveness for those mistakes.”
Amid one of the gravest crises of his pontificate, Benedict XVI is now facing calls to appear in court. A lawyer in the United States wants the Pope to give sworn testimony on what the Vatican knew about church sex abuse there.