Inhis first visit to the United States since his appointment, theVatican's top diplomat said the Roman Catholic Church has responded tothe U.S. clergy sexual abuse crisis with "dignity and courage."
CardinalTarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, spoke through aninterpreter at a news conference at the annual convention of theKnights of Columbus, the Catholic fraternal organization. Bertonecalled the "business" created in the United States around the clergyabuse scandal "unbearable," according to a Knights of Columbustranscript.
Bertone also was asked about the role of Catholics inpublic life, an issue that took on greater significance in the 2004presidential election and could re-emerge as a factor in the 2008 race.
"Idon't understand how a person in public office or one engaged inpolitical activity can be obliged to renounce his Catholic identitybecause the party, be it in the U.S. or in other countries, imposes anethical choice on the basis of the party's program," he said.
Bertonewas appointed to the Vatican's No. 2 post last year. Pope Benedict XVIis scheduled to visit United Nations headquarters in New York in 2008;details of the pontiff's first U.S. trip have not been released.
for a listing of alternate locations.