Pope Benedict XVI said on Tuesday that following the Roman Catholic Churchâs child sexual abuse scandals in the United States, the church is reviewing candidates for the priesthood with the objective of excluding those with a tendency to molest children.
Speaking to reporters on an airplane taking him for his first visit to the United States as pope, he addressed the scandal in the U.S. that has produced more than 5,000 sexual abuse victims since it erupted in 2002 and cost the church more than $2 billion.
âIt is a great suffering for the church in the United States and for the church in general and for me personally that this could happen,â he said. âAs I read the histories of those victims it is difficult for me to understand how it was possible that priests betrayed in this way. Their mission was to give healing, to give the love of God to these children. We are deeply ashamed and we will do what is possible that this cannot happen in the future.â
Apparently drawing a distinction between priests with homosexual tendencies and those inclined to molest children, the Pontiff said âI would not speak at this moment about homosexuality, but pedophilia which is another thing. And we would absolutely exclude pedophiles from the sacred ministry.â
âWho is guilty of pedophilia cannot be a priest,â he added.
The Pope said church officials were going through the seminaries that train would-be priests to make sure that those candidates have no such tendencies. âWeâll do all that is possible to have a strong discernment, because it is more important to have good priests than to have many priests.”
(That’s a cutout image of the pontiff from the Mercury News.)