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Catholic Sex Abuse Scandal Nears Pope

A papal letter of apology is the latest effort to save the Catholic Church from a scandal that threatens to become a plague of Biblical proportions.

Even Pope Benedict XVI has admitted that the Church has been "severely shaken" by repeated allegations of high-level cover-ups of sexual abuse and demands for a clear apology.

"My hope is that it (the letter) will help in the process of repentance, healing and renewal," the pontiff said earlier this week.

The letter will be released on Saturday, but CBS News correspondent Allen Pizzey reports that it's unlikely to assuage the anger of victims in parishes from the U.S. to Ireland., the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Brazil.

"I don't think a pastoral letter is the proper context in which to respond to a report about the cover up the rape of children," said Andrew Madden, an abuse victim.

Government-ordered inquiries in Ireland have documented cases of abuse and cover-ups between the 1930s and 1990s that involved more than 15,000 children.

"Children were sworn to secrecy, having made allegations against a priest, and subsequently that priest was allowed to carry on being a priest," said Madden.

In fact, the practice of protecting offending priests at the expense of the victims reportedly involved the Pope himself. When he was an archbishop in Germany, at least one known offender was moved from one parish to another.

A Germany psychiatrist told the New York Times in a story published Friday that he repeatedly warned the diocese Benedict then headed about the priest in question.

"I said, 'For God's sake, he desperately has to be kept away from working with children,'" the psychiatrist, Dr. Werner Huth, told the Times in a phone interview from Munich. "I was very unhappy about the entire story."
His alleged warnings, which were repeated to Benedict's senior aids, went unheeded.

German bishops have now recommended what they termed, "a compulsory registration of suspected sexual and physical abuse cases to state prosecutors."

"I don't want to blame the Pope," Archbishop Reinhard Marx said in Germany. "We as bishops have the responsibility in our dioceses."

Be that as it may, what really matters now is how far the Pope will go towards righting a massive wrong that just seems to keep on growing.

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