Vatican official: Pope pained by clerical sex abuse in Los Angeles

PIEVE DI CADORE, Italy – Pope Benedict XVI’s closest aide said the pope was pained and concerned by the “devastating scale” of clerical sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, held a wide-ranging press conference July 18 in Pieve di Cadore, near where Pope Benedict is vacationing in the northern Italian Alps.
Even if the percentage of priests who have sexually abused children “is a minority,” he said, just one instance “clashes with the identity and mission we are called to undertake.”
“The problem of pedophile priests is one that pains all churchmen,” he said, adding that the problem “in the diocese of Los Angeles was on a devastating scale.”
Cardinal Bertone also was asked about concerns over the prayer for the conversion of the Jews in the Good Friday liturgy of the 1962 Roman Missal.
After Pope Benedict issued his letter allowing greater use of the Tridentine Mass according to the 1962 missal, several Jewish leaders and Catholics involved in dialogue expressed concern over the missal’s prayer for the conversion of the Jews, which asks God to remove “the veil from their hearts” and help them overcome their “blindness.”
Since the Second Vatican Council, in the Good Friday prayer approved by Pope Paul VI in 1970, the Jews are referred to as “the first to hear the word of God” and the prayer asks that “they may continue to grow in the love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant.”
Cardinal Bertone said “the problem can be resolved” either by closely following Pope Benedict’s limits on using the 1962 Missal during Holy Week “or through a reflection that would lead to a decision valid for everyone – for the traditionalists and for those who want to celebrate the Mass according to the reforms of the Second Vatican Council” – that only the 1970 prayer be used at any Good Friday liturgy.
The Good Friday prayer for the Jews is one of a long set of prayers for various intentions, including prayers for the church, its ministers, other Christians, other believers in God and those who do not believe in God.
“It is a formula,” Cardinal Bertone said. “The problem can be studied, and it could be decided that all those celebrating the Mass in the Catholic Church, according to the old missal or the new missal, recite the same formula of the Good Friday prayers, which were approved by (Pope) Paul VI; this can be decided, and it would resolve all the problems.”
Cardinal Bertone also said the exact meaning of the limits Pope Benedict put on using the 1962 missal may need to be clarified. The papal document said, “In Masses celebrated without the people, any priest of Latin rite, whether secular or religious, can use the Roman Missal published by Pope Blessed John XXIII in 1962 or the Roman Missal promulgated by Pope Paul VI in 1970, on any day except in the sacred triduum,” which includes Good Friday.
But referring to those who have criticized in general Pope Benedict’s decision to allow wider use of the Tridentine Mass, Cardinal Bertone said, “There is nothing worse than despising something you do not know.”
Asked about the mid-July election in China of Father Joseph Li Shan as the new bishop of the Beijing Diocese, Cardinal Bertone said, “The bishop chosen is a very good and suitable subject, and this certainly is a very positive sign.”
The vote by a group of priests, nuns and laypeople must be confirmed by the government-recognized Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church of China before it is final. It was the first election of a bishop in the registered church community since Pope Benedict’s letter to Catholics in China was released June 30.
“We have not had an official communication about this election,” Cardinal Bertone told reporters.
Normally, he said, a bishop elected by a government-registered community would later “enter into contact with representatives of the Holy See and ask for approval; we hope this will happen.”
Cardinal Bertone also was asked if there was any possibility for a greater involvement of women in decision-making positions in the Catholic Church.
He told reporters there could be some surprises in the coming months.
“We are working on new appointments,” he said.
“Considering the possibilities, the gifts and the feminine potential, I think there could be some positions that will be assigned to women,” the cardinal said.
Currently inside the Vatican, the highest-ranking woman is Salesian Sister Enrica Rosanna, undersecretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. The prefects, secretaries and undersecretaries of the eight other Vatican congregations are all bishops and cardinals. Of the 11 pontifical councils, two – the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for Social Communications – have laymen serving as undersecretaries.

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