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Vaticangate: The sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church

Pope Benedict XVI

The Catholic Church is in turmoil after a flood of revelations of child sex abuse committed by members of its clergy in Europe and around the world. The scandals have often been hushed up by the clerical hierarchy. And the controversy has even threatened to spill over onto the pope himself, accused in Germany and the United States of playing a role in covering up the crimes.

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 Christian Terras

Christian Terras

runs the progressive Catholic magazine 'Golias'. This publication has been among the harshest critics of Rome. For two decades it has condemned the 'laissez faire' approach of the Church towards the sexual abuse of children.

"If Benedict XVI, the future Benedict XVI, becomes aware in the beginning of this decade the extent of the problem, how serious it is, and takes internal measures, there's only so much he can do. The honour of the Church calls for it not to cooperate with civil justice authorities."

 Hans Küng

Hans Küng

is a theology professor. His is one of the most critical voices of Benedict XVI's papacy. He advocates deep reform within the Catholic Church to solve the issue of paedophile priests, including re-opening the debate on tending celibacy and allowing women to become priests.

"And it must be said that the Pope does have a responsibility, because, since he was prefect of the faith, he was shown everything, for the last 22 years".

Federico Lombardi

is the Vatican's spokesman. He gave an exclusive interview to euronews to answer several accusations made against the Catholic Church in the recent wave of sex abuse scandals.

"...the contradiction of actions which are manifestly opposed to what we teach from the point of view of moral behaviour and respect of others, obviously hurts in a harder, deeper way for an institution that maintains and wants to keep its moral authority".

Jörg Fegert

is a child psychologist. In 2004 he contributed, as an independent expert, to a Vatican report on how to prevent child abuse. He participates in the series of roundtable talks organised by the German government and the Catholic Church to discuss measures to avoid further cases inside the religous institutions.

"An apology when it is just a gesture is not enough, in my opinion. But what I think is very, very important is the fact that these events are being discussed in public, that a big and powerful institution is confronted with the negative outcome of its deeds".


1985: The United States. A priest is jailed for 20 years for sexually abusing dozens of children. In the years to come, the scandals would multiply. 2007 : The Archdiocese of Los Angeles undertakes to distribute 660-million dollars to those who survived sexual abuse by its priests since 1940 (a million dollars for each survivor)

2009: Two reports appear in Ireland - the Ryan Report and The Murphy Report. They reveal an organised system to cover-up instances of paedophilia concerning 14500 children between 1970 and 2000.

2010: Germany: Around 170 former pupils at Catholic boarding schools decare they were sexually abused. Similar revelations appeared in Austria and the Netherlands.

12th March 2010: The Archdiocese of Munich acknowledged that allowing a priest accused of abusing children to return to his post to continue his activities was a grave error. The Vatican denied any implication linking Benedict XVI, who was Archbishop of Munich at the time, with the affair.

17th March 2010: The Primate of All Ireland, Mgr Sean Brady, apologised for his failure to denounce instances of sexual abuse that he knew about at the heart of the clergy during the 1970s and 1980s.

20th March 2010: The pope addressed a letter to Irish Catholics

25th March 2010: The American newspaper, the New York Times, reported that Benedict XVI had intervened to hush-up abuse in the US.

12th April 2010: The second in command at the Vatican, Tarcisio Bertone, maintained in a speech that there was a proven link between homosexuality and paedophilia.

22th April 2010: The Vatican retired an Irish bishop, a German offered to step down and prelates in England and Wales apologised for the "terrible crimes" of priests.

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