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Pope's Easter message ignores child sex abuse scandal

April 05, 2010 14:43 IST

Pope Benedict XVI failed to mention the child sex abuse scandal, which rocked the Roman Catholic Church, in his traditional Easter message in Rome.

He instead devoted his message to thousands of people in St Peter's Square by recalling the hardships of earthquake victims in Haiti and Chile and denouncing the violence from drug trafficking in Latin America.

The mass on April 4 began with a ringing tribute to the Pontiff by Cardinal Angelo Sodano.

"Holy Father, the people of God are with you and will not let themselves be influenced by the petty gossip of the moment, by the trials that sometimes assail the community of believers," the Daily Express, quoted him as having said.

The Pope also received support from Archbishop Rino Fisichella who compared the attacks on the Pope over the sex abuse scandal to Jesus'' suffering before he was crucified.

"On the sixth stop Christ is crowned with thorns. How can it not be seen that these painful acts from the past are nothing but a strategic attempt to get at Benedict?" Archbishop Fisichella said, referring to the Stations of the Cross.

But elsewhere, Catholic archbishops marked Easter with a series of apologies as they admitted the Church's "guilt" and "shame" over the sex abuse scandal.

Cardinal Sean Brady, head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, who last month admitted to being at a meeting where children abused by a sex offender were forced to take a vow of silence, accepted responsibility for taking part in the culture of cover-up over the scandal.

In his Easter address, he said the desire to avoid scandal had meant proper procedures were not followed and until recent times abusers were not brought before the courts.

"I realise that, however unintentionally, however unknowingly, I too allowed myself to be influenced by that culture in our Church, and our society," he said.

Sunday Mass at Dublin's Pro-Cathedral came to a halt as protesters placed children's shoes on the altar to remember the victims of clerical sex abuse.

In Britain, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams said the crisis affected all Christians, and he apologised for remarks he had made about the scandal in the Catholic Church.

Dr Williams, leader of the Anglican Church, had said the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland had lost all credibility because of its mishandling of abuse by priests.

He telephoned Archbishop Diarmud Martin in Dublin to express his regrets.

"I was saying sorry that I had made life more difficult for the Archbishop of Dublin and his colleagues who have been trying to tackle this crisis with great imagination and honesty," he told the BBC.

"I wasn't intending to criticise or condemn, but to point out a really tragic situation and a huge challenge that faces the Church in Ireland at the moment," he added.

Dr Williams did not mention the abuse scandal during his Easter sermon at Canterbury Cathedral.

But the head of the Catholic Church in England, Archbishop of Westminster Vincent Nichols, spoke to his congregation about the scandal.

"In recent weeks the serious sins committed within the Catholic community have been much talked about," he said.

"For our part, we have been reflecting on them deeply, acknowledging our guilt and our need for forgiveness," he added. 

Source: ANI