Abuse victims group blasts pope's 'disingenuous' remarks

16th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

A network of child abuse victims lashed out at the pope Thursday, decrying his "disingenuous" remarks on the Catholic Church's lack of vigilance on the issue of pedophile priests.

On his plane shortly before landing in Britain for a historic visit, Pope Benedict XVI expressed his "great sadness" over revelations of widespread abuse of children by Catholic priests, saying that "authorities in the church have not been vigilant enough" in combating the problem.

But the US-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said the pope's comments were "hurtful, not helpful," and that any Vatican action on ridding the church of abusive priests or turning them over to law enforcement has been "virtually insignificant."

"It's disingenuous to say church officials have been slow and insufficiently vigilant in dealing with clergy sex crimes and cover-ups," SNAP's southwestern regional director Joelle Casteix said in a statement.

"On the contrary, they've been prompt and vigilant, but in concealing, not preventing, these horrors."

The Catholic Church has been shaken by revelations that priests and Catholic teachers in Ireland, the United States and other countries had abused children in their care.

Casteix said papal claims of insufficient vigilance "imply that all's well and that just a tad more attentiveness and promptness is needed. That's patently false."

Bishops worldwide, she added, "continue to deliberately choose secrecy and deception over safety and honesty in child sex cases. That's the sad, simple truth.

"How many times will we let the world's most powerful religious figure just talk about child sex crimes and cover-ups and not insist that he do something about child sex crimes and cover-ups?"

Benedict is on the first ever state visit to Britain by a pope since English king Henry VIII broke with the Catholic Church in Rome in 1534 and founded the Church of England.

The British bishops' conference said last week that the pope could meet with victims of pedophile priests during his visit.

© 2010 AFP

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