Pope needs better advice to decide in child abuse cases: critic

9th May 2010, Comments 0 comments

Pope Benedict XVI should be advised by a group of "wise men" before taking sweeping decisions in ongoing child abuse cases, one of the Vatican's fiercest critics said in an interview published Sunday.

"At this point acts of contrition and apologies are no longer enough," Swiss theologian Hans Kueng told Italy's La Repubblica newspaper. "And the pope cannot resolve this problem alone."

Kueng called on Benedict to act swiftly as it was not possible to "think in terms of centuries to overcome this dramatic crisis".

The paths of Kueng and Benedict, the former cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, have crossed often. Kueng is just one year younger than the pope and they met as theology students in the Austrian city of Innsbruck in 1957.

Kueng, now 82, was barred by the Vatican in 1979 from teaching for questioning the pope's infallibility.

He made headlines for describing John Paul II's pontificate in 2003 as a "disaster" and often attacked the late pope's views on contraception and the ordination of women, which Benedict shares.

Kueng said Benedict XVI "should set up a small panel of wise men who would have authority to help him make decisions", but cautioned that such a move was unlikely.

"Unfortunately the Church's current system of government where everything rests on the shoulders of one man is not really suitable in the current critical situation," he said, adding that the Roman Catholic Church "is still medieval even if seen from the outside it uses modern means".

The interview was published a day after Benedict accepted the resignation of a German bishop who admitted he beat children in a Catholic orphanage and who also faces a paedophilia probe.

The resignation was the latest in a string of paedophile priest scandals that has rocked the Church for years.

Benedict said Sunday he was looking forward to visiting Portugal this week where he will celebrate the 10th anniversary of the beatification of two shepherds who claim to have seen the mother of Jesus Christ.

Speaking during mass in Saint Peter's Square he asked the faithful to pray for the Church and its "retired priests" as well as peace in the world.

He did not dwell on the suspected paedophilia and child beating case surrounding German bishop Walter Mixa, whose resignation he accepted Saturday.

© 2010 AFP

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