A top American cardinal has said that Pope Benedict should be praised for how the sexual abuse cases are being dealt with by the Vatican. His comments came as Father Ronat of Cloyne who was accused of child abuse has spoken out about how he feels his victims have a “deliberate vendetta” against him.
Cardinal William Levada, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, spoke at a Vatican-backed symposium on safeguarding children. He said Pope Benedict has been “instrumental” in setting up the standard to crack down on pedophilia within the clergy. He also said the Pope had been supportive of US bishops in the fight against abuse.
In his role as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Levada ensures doctrinal purity and, in recent decades, has shaped the Holy See's policies on handling abuse cases involving clergy.
Levada lamented the fact that Pope Benedict “has had to suffer attacks by the media over these past years in various parts of the world when he should receive the gratitude of us all, in the Church and outside it."
The group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), from the United States, has already dismissed the four-day, closed door gathering.
SNAP official, Joelle Casteix said, “True change and child protection comes through accountability from secular authorities. Until we have that, we must see Rome's meeting for exactly what it is: cheap window dressing."
She continued that the Vatican “still cannot do the simplest, cheapest, and most child-friendly action possible: Make public decades of secret files on clergy sex offenders and enablers."
Levada did acknowledge some of the Catholic Church’s shortcomings in dealing with the sexual abuse of minors by the clergy.
He said “The more than 4,000 cases of sexual abuse of minors reported to the CDF (the congregation on doctrine) in the past decade have revealed, on the one hand, the inadequacy of an exclusively canonical (or canon law) response to this tragedy, and on the other, the necessity of a truly multifaceted response."
Marie Collins, an Irish woman, spoke at the conference on Tuesday. She was raped by a priest as a teen in a Dublin hospital. Last week, she urged Pope Benedict to publicly seek forgiveness for church leaders who put innocent children into the safe keeping of church institutions.
The Associate Press reports that Primate Sean Brady is also taking part in the symposium. In 2010, Brady admitted that he had concealed the crimes of a serial rapist-priest from the authorities in mid-1970s. He rejected all calls to resign.
Earlier this week, the Irish Examiner reported on comments made by Father Ronat in Cloyne about a “deliberate vendetta” has been waged against him. He said that the victims have harassed him and that he has received “vulgar and distressing” texts and calls from women.
Ronat is set to appear before a canonical tribunal, where he may be defrocked. His victims have also reminded him that they have letters of apology from the diocese for the abuse they suffered. They described his recent complaints as “pathetic” and “hurtful”.
Eleven complaints were made to the police against the North Cork priest.
One victim, Fennella, said "Let him do whatever he wants to do. Let him question my letter of apology. I don’t have to paint myself as a victim and I have never painted myself as a victim."
Another victim described Father Ronat as "pathetic and clearly demented".