The Pope is facing fresh claims he failed to crack down on child sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.
The latest bombshell comes in the shape of a letter from 1985 apparently signed by the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. In it, he is said to have recommended caution in defrocking a California priest who had admitted molesting children.
Associated Press said the Rev.Stephen Kiesle had been sentenced for lewd conduct with two boys in a church rectory. Finally removed in 1987, he was later jailed for molesting a young girl. According to the letter, Cardinal Ratzinger told the then Bishop of Oakland the “good of the Universal Church” must be considered in defrocking the priest.
“It was all moving slowly, yeah,” said the former Bishop, John Cummins. “Of course, Cardinal Ratzinger, I guess when we first started moving on Kiesle, he was not on the scene at all. And then when he took over, I think he was following what was the practice at the time, that the Pope John Paul was slowing these things down. You did not just walk out of the priesthood then.”
Representatives of the former priest’s victims however have a different take on the Catholic hierarchy’s handling of events.
“Their biggest concern was how to protect the universal church from any scandal,” said Irwin Zalkin, a lawyer for Kiesle’s victims. “Scandal was considered a sin.”
As accusations multiply of a Catholic church cover- up in several countries, the Vatican says Pope Benedict is willing to meet more victims of sexual abuse.