No less a figure than Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who was one of the most influential figures in the Vatican until he retired last year, defended the church's history of sheltering abusive priests, saying that handing them over would have been like testifying against a family member. He had been asked by his local Columbian radio station, RCN, to explain why he had written to French Bishop Pierre Pican in 2001, lauding him for harbouring an abuser who was later jailed for 18 years. Cardinal Hoyos replied:
"The law in nations with a well-developed judiciary does not force anyone to testify against a child, a father, against other people close to the suspect.Why would they ask that of the church? That's the injustice. It's not about defending a paedophile. It's about defending the dignity and the human rights of a person, even the worst of criminals."In the same interview, Cardinal Hoyos defended Pope Benedict XVI's predecessor, saying that :
" ... John Paul II, that holy pope (sic), was not wrong when he defended his priests so that they were not, due to economic reasons, treated like criminal paedophiles without due process".Hoyos was made a cardinal in 1998 by Pope John Paul II and was head of the highly influential Congregation for the Clergy until 2006. One of its duties is to oversee complaints from clergy members who claim to have been unfairly punished by their superiors. Clearly Hoyos considered his duties involved refusing to report cases to civil investigative authorities and being complicit, if not directly involved, in acts of paedophilia.Yesterday, the US newspaper, the National Catholic Reporter, published an investigation into Hoyos' time at the Congregation for the Clergy, reporting on how he had also intervened on behalf of a paedophile priest in America, against the wishes of his bishop who was trying to defrock him.
Meanwhile, Roger Vangheluwe, the Bishop of Bruges since 1984, announced he was resigning, after admitting that he had abused a boy. Vangheluwe stated:
"When I was still a simple priest, and for a while when I began as a bishop, I sexually abused a young man in my close entourage. I profoundly regret what I have done and I offer my sincerest apology to the victim, his family, the Catholic community and society in general."It is perhaps no coincidence that Vangheluwe's resignation was made just as church officials confirmed that they were investigating 20 alleged cases of clerical abuse in Belgium. Strange that his conscience didn't appear to have prompted him to resign during any of his previous 26 years of lording it over his bishoprick!