Vatican diplomat: Church responded to crisis with courage
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — In his first visit to the United States sincehis appointment, the Vatican's top diplomat said the Roman CatholicChurch has responded to the U.S. clergy sexual abuse crisis with"dignity and courage."
Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, the Vaticansecretary of state, spoke at a news conference at the annual conventionof the Knights of Columbus, the Catholic fraternal organization.
Speakingthrough an interpreter, Bertone called the "business" created in theUnited States around the clergy abuse scandal "unbearable," accordingto a Knights of Columbus transcript.
He added: "I hope that otherinstitutions and social agencies will face this same problem with theirmembers, with an equal degree of courage and realism as the CatholicChurch has done." He questioned whether other institutions havefinancially supported victims and "taken care of the victims and thosewho are guilty."
Bertone also was asked about the role ofCatholics in public life, an issue that took on greater significance inthe 2004 U.S. presidential election and could re-emerge as a factor inthe 2008 race.
"I don't understand how a person in public officeor one engaged in political activity can be obliged to renounce hisCatholic identity because the party, be it in the U.S. or in othercountries, imposes an ethical choice on the basis of the party'sprogram," he said. "This, according to me, does not respect freedom ofconscience."
Bertone was appointed to the Vatican's No. 2 postlast year. Pope Benedict is scheduled to visit United Nationsheadquarters in New York in 2008; details of the pontiff's first U.S.trip have not been released.
for a listing of alternate locations.