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Catholic Church Abuse Scandal
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Top Stories - Reuters
Vatican: U.S. Catholic Sex Scandal Was Overstated
Fri Oct 10, 4:16 PM ET
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VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The media has exaggerated a sex scandal that has shaken the U.S. Roman Catholic Church and unfairly tainted thousands of priests with overzealous coverage, Pope John Paul (news - web sites) II's top aide said Friday.

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Slideshow Slideshow: Catholic Church Abuse Scandal

 

"The scandals in the United States received disproportionate attention from the media," Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano told Reuters in an interview. "There are thieves in every country, but it's hard to say that everyone is a thief."

Boston was the epicenter of a scandal that swept the United States last year after it was discovered that several American dioceses had transferred priests known to have abused children from parish to parish without alerting the public.

Similar scandals later came to light in dioceses around the world, angering some rank-and-file Catholics.

Sodano, who is second only to the pope in the Vatican (news - web sites) hierarchy, said there were more than 48,000 U.S. priests.

"The vast majority are generous pastors," said Sodano, 75, speaking in the ornate chambers of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace. "Why should there be so much aggressiveness toward them, and so many unjust generalizations?"

The archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Bernard Law, resigned last December after dozens of his own priests publicly called on him to step down, but the effects of the scandal still linger.

Last month the Archdiocese of Boston agreed to pay up to $85 million to settle lawsuits filed by hundreds of people who say they were sexually abused by clergy.

Thursday the pope decried the behavior of some priests in a veiled reference to the scandals. "The scandalous behavior of a few has undermined the credibility of many," the pope said.

DEVOUT MISSIONARIES

Sodano, a cardinal since 1991 when he was appointed as the Vatican's top diplomat, said the Catholic Church was amazed to have seen priests condemned -- "put into the same pot" -- even though many were devoted missionaries working around the world.

"I am sorry to see these wonderful missionaries who have dedicated their lives (to Christ) seeing themselves derided after 50 years of work," he said.

"It is fair to condemn evil, but one must keep it in proportion," said Sodano, dressed in his cardinal's black and scarlet robes with a golden crucifix around his neck.

Last December the Vatican approved revised U.S. rules to try to protect children and punish clergy found guilty of sexual abuse. "The bishops in their dioceses have committed themselves to be closer to their priests," Sodano said.

Asked if there might have been a plot to discredit the Church, he said: "We don't have evidence of this but I know that many people have thought this. We give the facts."


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