Pope Benedict XVI sees the priestly sex scandal as a “test for him and the church,” his spokesman said on Wednesday, as bishops around Europe used the days marking the Christian festival of Easter and the Holy Week’s solemn call for penitence to pledge transparency in dealing with the abuse of children.
But amid such signs of humility, a senior cleric also mounted a sharp counterattack to the allegations now swirling around the papacy. Swiss bishops urged victims to consider filing criminal complaints. German bishops opened a hot line for victims. Danish bishops launched an inquiry into decades-old claims.
As the Swiss bishops noted on Wednesday, Holy Week is a period of penance, when the faithful are supposed to admit their guilt, examine wrongdoing, find ways to improve and ask God and people for forgiveness.
Benedict himself was experiencing a Holy Week of “humility and penitence,” Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said.