April 2, 2010 in Nation/World

Sermons decry abuse journalism

Cardinals respond to media ‘targeting’
Victor L. Simpson Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Pope Benedict XVI washes the foot of an unidentified man in the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome on Thursday. The ceremony symbolizes humility and commemorates Jesus’ Last Supper with his apostles.
(Full-size photo)

VATICAN CITY – Cardinals across Europe used their Holy Thursday sermons to defend Pope Benedict XVI from accusations he played a role in covering up sex abuse scandals, and an increasingly angry Vatican sought to deflect any criticism in the Western media.

The relationship between the church and the media has become increasingly bitter as the scandal buffeting the 1 billion-member church has touched the pontiff himself. On Wednesday, the church singled out the New York Times for criticism in an unusually harsh attack.

On Holy Thursday, Benedict first celebrated a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica dedicated to the union between the pope and the world’s priests. In the late afternoon, he washed the feet of 12 priests in a ceremony symbolizing humility and commemorating Christ’s Last Supper with his 12 apostles on the evening before his Good Friday crucifixion.

Although there were expectations by some that the pope would address the crisis, Benedict made no reference to the scandal at either ceremony.

Warsaw Archbishop Kazimierz Nycz said the church should take notice of individual tragedies and treat sex abuse cases very seriously, but at the same time, he criticized the media for “targeting the whole church, targeting the pope, and to that we must say ‘no’ in the name of truth and in the name of justice.”

And Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, speaking of Benedict’s long years as head of a Vatican office that investigates abuse, said the future pope “had a very clear line of not covering up but clearing up.”

He had also reflected on the issue at a Wednesday evening service:

“I admit that I often feel a sense of injustice these days. Why is the church being excoriated? Isn’t there also abuse elsewhere? … And then I’m tempted to say: ‘Yes, the media just don’t like the church! Maybe there’s even a conspiracy against the church?’ But then I feel in my heart that no, that’s not it.”

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