Rome Waited 12 Years to Ban Ariz. Priest

At Rome's Colosseum, Pope Benedict XVI led prayers tonight at the ancient battleground the church reveres as a place of Christian suffering. CBS

Updated at 6:58 p.m. ET

At Rome's Colosseum, Pope Benedict XVI led prayers tonight at the ancient battleground the church reveres as a place of Christian suffering.

And at a service in St. Peter's Basilica, the pope heard a homily from his personal pastor today expressing anger about pain the church is facing now, reports CBS News correspondent Richard Roth.

Attacks on the church in the sex abuse scandal, said the pope's priest, amount to "collective violence" against a religion. And he compared the criticism aimed at Catholics to anti-Semitism suffered by Jews.

Benedict sat in silence. But Jewish leaders reacted with outrage. A "repulsive" comparison, said the leader of Germany's council of Jews, "offensive toward all abuse victims as well as to victims of the holocaust."

The Vatican quickly said the priest's remarks don't represent official church position.

A CBS News poll found as more sexual abuse cases involving priests in both the United States and Europe have made headlines -- among them cases with connections to Pope Benedict XVI -- Americans have become less positive about the pope.

In the pope's native Germany, there was blunt talk today about the scandal and the suffering of children.

In cologne cathedral, a prayer was offered for children who'd been abused at church schools.

And a statement from the leader of Germany's Catholic bishops said there's horror and shame over "appalling crimes of sexual abuse." From a misguided desire to protect its own reputation, said the archbishop's statement, the German church had neglected its young victims.

There were no similar words from the pontiff today to calm the storm in his church.

The future Pope Benedict XVI took over the abuse case of an Arizona priest, then let it languish at the Vatican for years despite repeated pleas from the bishop for the man to be removed from the priesthood, according to church correspondence.

Documents reviewed by The Associated Press show that in 1990, members of a church tribunal found that the Rev. Michael Teta of Tuscon, Ariz., had molested children and deemed his behavior - including allegations that he abused boys in a confessional - almost "satanic." The tribunal referred his case to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who would become pope in 2005.

It took 12 years from the time Ratzinger assumed control of the case in a signed letter until Teta was formally removed from ministry, a step only the Vatican can take.

As abuse cases with the pontiff's fingerprints mushroom, Teta's case and that of another Arizona priest cast further doubt on the church's insistence that the future pope played no role in shielding pedophiles.

Teta was accused of engaging in abuse not long after his arrival to the Diocese of Tucson, Ariz., in 1978. Among the allegations that would later be part of settlements: He molested two boys, ages 7 and 9, in the confessional as they prepared for their First Communion.

Bishop Manuel Moreno eventually was made aware of the allegations and held a church tribunal for Teta, which determined "there is almost a satanic quality in his mode of acting toward young men and boys."

More on Catholic Church abuse:

1963 Letter Suggests Pope Knew of Abuse
Vatican Fights to Keep Pope Out of Court
Scandal Strains Catholics' Ties to Church
Pope Opens Holy Week Amid Sex Abuse Crisis
Top Cardinal Calls for "Housecleaning"
Vatican Mounts Defense after Allegations
Vatican Strongly Defends Abuse Decision
Documents Regarding Accused Priest

One cardinal came to Pope Benedcit's defense Friday. Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley says Pope Benedict XVI was the U.S. church's "strongest ally" in dealing with its clergy sex abuse scandal.

O'Malley says Friday on his blog that all Roman Catholics are disturbed by recent reports of abuse from Europe. But he says there has been "misinformation" about the pope's role.

He says many in the European church were unsympathetic to U.S. efforts to deal with clergy sex abuse. But he says Benedict, then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratinzger, was instrumental in implementing zero tolerance for abusers and mandatory reporting of allegations.

The U.S. clergy sex abuse crisis erupted in Boston in 2002 after records revealed church officials kept molestation complaints secret. O'Malley was brought in to clean up the matter after Cardinal Bernard Law resigned.

Read O'Malley's blog
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