Vatican: U.S. Catholic Sex Scandal Was
"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
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
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.
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."