Munich archbishop expresses shame in sex abuse cases

I walked over to the what the local guide book describes as the "Archbishop's palace" this afternoon and saw a crowd out in front. A demonstration, I thought as I approached the group, it's leader speaking into a hand held microphone.

"And if you look up at the third floor, you will see some beautifully carved..."

... Nope, not a demonstration, an Irish tour group and in a moment they were walking on.

Meanwhile, the archbishop of Munich and Freising, Reinhard Marx, speaking at a hilltop pilgrimage site north of Nuremberg, expressed “deep shame” today for cases of sexual molestation that have shaken the home region of Pope Benedict, and said he was in favor of changing German law so that church officials would have a greater duty to report suspected child abuse to prosecutors.

But Marx defended the overall integrity of the church, in a give and take with reporters, saying it would never be possible to ensure there is no abuse.

The archbishop’s comments came following revelations last week that a priest in this archdiocese who was accused of molesting boys while Pope Benedict served as archbishop here was allowed to continue working with children, even after being convicted of abuse.

The priest was suspended from duty only this week as scrutiny of the case grew amid questions over the role Benedict had played in its handling in 1980, when he led the archdiocese.

At that time, the future pope, approved the priest’s transfer for therapy. A subordinate took full responsibility for allowing the priest to later resume pastoral work, the archdiocese said in a statement.

Archbishop Marx, who now heads the Munich archdiocese, refused to discuss specifics of that case.

On Saturday, Benedict is expected to release a pastoral letter to Catholics in Ireland, where a separate abuse scandal has embroiled the church and now threatens to topple the leading Irish cardinal.

Howevefr, if the pope speaks about the Irish church's sex abuse issues without also referring to the deep pain evident here in Germany it will be a cause for great disappointment here. German Catholics are counting the days as they wait to here the pope -- thier former archbishop -- address the scandal here forcefully.

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