Archbishop Ganswein says abuse crisis is church's 9/11

IMAGE: CNS photo/Stefano Rellandini, Reuters

By Carol Glatz

ROME (CNS) — The concern of now-retired Pope Benedict
XVI and the promises made by the majority of church leaders were not able to
stop the evil of clerical sexual abuse, which has been the 9/11 of the Catholic
Church, the retired pope’s personal secretary said.

Even if the “catastrophe” of abuse does not
fall on one particular date, but rather extends over “so many days and
years” and has claimed “countless victims,” Archbishop Georg
Ganswein said, today, in the wake of the Pennsylvania grand jury report,
“the Catholic Church is looking — full of dismay — at its own

Speaking during a book presentation in Rome Sept. 11, Archbishop
Ganswein, who is also prefect of the papal household, said, “I don’t mean
to compare the victims or the number of abuses concerning the Catholic Church
with the 2,996 innocent people in all who lost their lives Sept. 11.”

“No one, so far, has attacked the church of Christ
with airlines full of passengers. St. Peter’s Basilica is still standing”
as are other symbolic churches in the Western world, he said, according to news

“And yet, the news coming from America that recently
informed us about how many souls have been irreparably and mortally wounded by
priests of the Catholic Church, gives us a message (that is) even more terrible
than if there had been news that all the churches in Pennsylvania had suddenly
collapsed together with the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate
Conception in Washington,” he said.

Having mentioned the basilica, the archbishop said he was
reminded “as if it were yesterday” of when he accompanied Pope
Benedict there April 16, 2008. The pope, who also visited New York and Baltimore
on that trip, gave a lengthy speech to the nation’s bishops at the shrine.

In the portion of his talk dedicated to the sexual abuse
of minors, Pope Benedict “tried poignantly to shake the bishops assembled from
all over the United States,” the archbishop said.

Quoting from the pope’s text, the archbishop recalled how
the pope spoke about “the deep shame” caused by the sexual abuse of
minors by priests and “the enormous pain that your communities have
suffered when clerics have betrayed their priestly obligations and duties by
such gravely immoral behavior.”

But that talk, Archbishop Ganswein said, was
“evidently in vain, as we see today. The cry of the Holy Father did not
succeed in holding back the evil nor did the formal assurances and the verbal
commitments by a great part of the hierarchy.”

Archbishop Ganswein has worked with the retired pope since
1996, first serving on the staff of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith and later becoming then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s personal secretary in

– – –

Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Original Article