For U.S. Catholics, a Bittersweet Easter Sunday

Pope Benedict XVI holds his pastoral staff as he arrives to celebrate a Chrism Mass, in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, April 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito
A cardinal took to the Vatican stage Sunday to defend the Pope before the traditional Easter mass. But a new CBS News poll shows America's 70 million Catholics are concerned about the Pope's handling of the worldwide sex abuse scandal. Only 20 percent say the Pope is doing a good job and 55 percent rate his handling as poor. CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds has more.

For American Catholics, celebrating this Easter Sunday was a bittersweet occasion.

"You know, people are getting more and more shocked," said one worshipper, Raul Vidal.

Poll: Americans Losing Faith in Pope

The latest spate of sex abuse stories involving Catholic clergymen has unspooled just as Christians around the world are celebrating the most significant holiday on the liturgical calendar.

At St. Matthews Cathedral in Washington, worshippers had mixed emotions.

"All this is happening now is very hurtful," said Jean Rozansky, "but it is not going to shake our faith."

While many American Catholics stop short of accusing Pope Benedict himself of complicity in a church-wide cover-up of abuses, there are mounting calls for him to do more to allay concerns of the faithful.

"What the Pope needs to do is get out in front of this and explain what he knows and what he understands about this problem," said Tom Roberts of the National Catholic Reporter.

Recent disclosures in the news media have had a corrosive effect.

Critics claim the Vatican looked the other way when presented evidence of abuses such as the case of father Lawrence Murphy, who may have molested some 200 boys at a school for the deaf in the 1960s.

Court documents suggest the pope, as a leading Cardinal in the 1990s, may have slowed a canonical trial of father Murphy, who was ultimately allowed to die a priest.

To those critics, avoiding embarrassing details seems to have been paramount to the church hierarchy then - and even now.

"It could be a time of healing and they're squandering it," worshipper Tara Libert said.

But that point is debatable within the American church.

"We don't expect the Pope to be going around every single day creating new sound bites and trying to satisfy people who are never going to accept what he has to say anyway," said Raymond Flynn, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See.

Still, the damage is evident this Easter. Father Michael Knotek is pastor of a south side Chicago parish.

"Twenty years ago, a priest would walk down the street of any major city and people would say, 'good afternoon, father,'" Knotek said. "They hardly ever do that any more."

From the pulpit to the pews, there is plenty of pain to share.

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