Abuse victims reject pope's 'hurtful' comments

16th September 2010, Comments 0 comments

Victims of abuse dismissed Pope Benedict XVI's "hurtful" comments Thursday about how the Catholic Church had lacked vigilance on paedophilia, as he arrived on a state visit to Britain.

"The pope's disingenuous comments about the abuse and cover up crisis are hurtful, not helpful," Joell Casteix of the US-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said in a statement.

"It's disingenuous to say church officials have been slow and insufficiently vigilant in dealing with clergy sex crimes and cover ups.

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

Benedict told reporters on the plane taking him to Edinburgh for the four-day trip that the revelations of widespread abuse of children by Catholic priests had been "a shock to me and a great sadness".

"The authorities in the church have not been vigilant enough," he said.

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.

But SNAP, one of the most outspoken groups for abuse survivors, said that Catholic bishops "actively work to protect the predators and the church's reputation."

"Claims of inadequate vigilance and speed imply that all's well and that just a tad more attentiveness and promptness is needed. That's patently false," Casteix said.

The pope is set to face protests from demonstrators angry at the Vatican's handling of the abuse scandal, along with demonstrations on rights issues and the cost of the visit.

© 2010 AFP

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