Video interview of Msgr. Charles Scicluna: “words of fire”

My friend Greg Burke, the Rome correspondent for Fox News, scored an interview – video interview – with Msgr. Charles Scicluna of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who handles graviora delicta cases.

Vatican Prosecutor: Pope Showed “Frustration and Anger” Over Abuse Cases
August 23, 2010 – 8:51 AM | by: Greg Burke

In an extensive interview with Fox News, the chief Vatican prosecutor for clerical sex abuse cases, Monsignor Charles Scicluna, said he watched Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s “compassion, anger and frustration” as the future pope reviewed hundreds of cases between 2002-2005.

When asked if those three years fundamentally changed Ratzinger’s view of the abuse scandal, Scicluna said the experience would change anybody.

“I think it was an eye-opener to the gravity of the situation and to the great sadness of priestly betrayal and priestly failure,” he said.  “I think that anybody who has to review so many cases will certainly change his perspective on things, on human failings, but also on the great suffering they create.”

While Benedict has been accused of mishandling abuse cases, as an Archbishop in Germany, and also as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, Scicluna rejected those charges.

The priest, who grew up on the island of Malta, said those who worked with the future Pope in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith were full of admiration for him and his “courage and determination” in dealing with the crisis.

I am a direct witness to the compassion, the frustration and the anger that these cases instilled in Cardinal Ratzinger, the man, Joseph Ratzinger,” Scicluna said.

While Scicluna seems determined to avoid using the term “crisis,” he insists on calling sin by its name, and crime as well. [Do I hear an "Amen!"?]

“People call this a crisis,” he said. “It is certainly a challenge to the Church, but it is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to call sin sin in its face, and do something about it. It is an opportunity for the church to show itself determined in its fight against sin, against crime.”

While the sexual abuse of minors clearly does not take place only in church circles, Fox asked Scicluna if he thought the Catholic Church should be held to a higher standard.

“I think so,” Scicluna responded.  “Because we do stand for a very clear message which should be a light to the world. So we do complain about the headlines sometimes, but the headlines are a reflection that the world takes what we say very seriously, and is scandalized when what we do does not correspond to what we say.”

Scicluna, whose official title is the Promoter of Justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said a priest who abuses makes a “mockery” of his vocation.

There is a sacred trust which has been violated,” he said.  “The priest has been ordained to be an icon, a living image of Jesus Christ. He is another Christ at the altar, when he preaches. Now when he abuses, he shatters that icon.”

He said the Church has to face up to the truth, even if it’s not very nice: “There’s no other way out of this situation, except facing the truth of the matter.”

Scicluna said the Church has to be severe with offenders, as Christ was: “He had words of fire against people who would scandalize the young. And if we stick to his words and are loyal to his teaching, we are on very good ground. We are not alone.”

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14 Responses to Video interview of Msgr. Charles Scicluna: “words of fire”

  1. TJerome says:

    I doubt the New York Slimes or the National Catholic Fishwrap will published this interview since it doesn’t fit the Agenda. Msgr. Scicluna’s description of Pope Benedict’s reaction and handling of this grave matter fits the character of this holy man.

  2. lucy says:

    Amen !

  3. Christopher Milton says:

    I am blown away! There is such clarity in the Msgr’s words. Can we put him on billboards?!?

  4. Andy Milam says:

    I never really doubted the concern that then-Cardinal Ratzinger had regarding this very sobering incident in the life of the Church. But this interview does go to show that the Holy Father has dealt with this with compassion and firmness. I am heartened to see the courage that the priests are now starting to show in defending themselves and each other.

    While I agree that the Church should be held to higher standards, I don’t agree with the witch-hunt mentality of the mainstream media. It isn’t simply the Church and it needs to be said by those who are involved to make that clear. Abuse extends to all parts of creation, just as there are many alcoholic priests, that doesn’t mean that it is an exclusive issue regarding alcoholism. There are many priests that are addicted to gambling, but that doesn’t mean that it is an exculsive issue regarding gambling addiction. There are priests who are ephebophiles (rather than the generic and incorrect term pedophiles), but that doesn’t mean that it is an exclusive issue regarding ephebophilia. But what is amazing is how the mainstream media portrays this as an almost exclusive issue regarding priests. How about we talk about the guy down the street who can’t live within 1000 yards of a school. How about we talk about the many men AND women who are in prison for the same predatory actions. Alas, they are buried and almost forgotten (with the exception of those they directly hurt), because it is better to be out of sight, out of mind, unless the offender is wearing a cassock (or at least a tabby). The double standard has to stop.

    Kudos to Mons. Scicluna. Now we just need to have Fr. Z. wield his unruly power and influence to get Mr. John Allen to interview him.

  5. Wow!
    An official of the Holy See, of the CDF, no less, who speaks with direct, concise and clear words…praise Jesus!
    This is a great interview.
    The good Msgr., who obviously knows the Pope and gives us very important information regarding his reaction to the horrid business, is doing the Church a great favor.
    Bless him; God save and help our Holy Father, Pope Benedict!
    With the Pope’s very sensitive and pastoral soul, I can’t imagine the horror and angst he must experience regarding his priests and bishops who have violated, in a global way, the innocence of children; what a tremendous burden this must be. Sharing in our Lord’s Cross in an excruciating manner.
    And all the media pundits (including the so-called Catholic media. NCFishwrap among them) just pummel Pope Benedict day and night; he can’t do anything right. Shame on them all!

  6. catholicmidwest says:

    AMEN.

  7. annieoakley says:

    I get scared for children when I hear someone say that the Church has to be held to a higher standard than others because that’s the same as saying that other institutions can be held to a lesser standard for children. Shouldn’t all institutions and all individuals who deal with children equally be held to the highest standards?

  8. DHippolito says:

    Two points:

    “I am a direct witness to the compassion, the frustration and the anger that these cases instilled in Cardinal Ratzinger, the man, Joseph Ratzinger,” Scicluna said.

    I am not interested in the current Pope’s emotions. I am interested in his actions now. So is God. So should any Catholic — indeed, any Christian — worthy of the name. How he behaves and how he disciplines those under his authority, whether prelates, clergy or laity — or fails to do so — will be pivotal to the history of the Church.

    While Scicluna seems determined to avoid using the term “crisis,” he insists on calling sin by its name, and crime as well.

    I understand and applaud Fr. Scicluna’s reluctance to soft-pedal the problem. Yet this is a crisis in that it affects the Church’s fundamental moral integrity….not unlike the sale of indulgences did 500 years ago.

  9. Andy Milam says:

    DiHippolito,

    “I am not interested in the current Pope’s emotions. I am interested in his actions now.”

    The Vatican (ie Pope) is acting on this. It has been clearly recognized since April at the latest. I am taking this quote from Reuters, but you can find it anyhwere. Phillip Puella wrote on April 21,2010, “A statement Sunday in Malta after his meeting with eight abuse victims said the pope promised them the Church would do “all in its power to investigate allegations, to bring to justice those responsible for abuse and to implement effective measures designed to safeguard young people in the future.”

    I think that is clear enough. The steps are being put into place and the Vatican is working with authorities. Of note, this has been the Vatican’s position for a very long time, but it was never put into writing. We cannot, however, place the blame on Benedict for actions that did not happen while he was not Pope. That is uncharitable and unfair.

    On another note, clearly you don’t understand the issue of the sale of indulgences. There never were any direct sales of indulgences. You are setting up a fallacy that cannot ultimately be supported. You are comparing apples to oranges.

  10. DHippolito says:

    “(The Church would do)all in its power to investigate allegations, to bring to justice those responsible for abuse and to implement effective measures designed to safeguard young people in the future.”

    Again, Andy, those are words, not deeds. Too many Catholics are satisfied far too often with nice-sounding words. I don’t expect the Papal office to reveal everything it’s doing before it makes formal annnouncements. But the expulsion of Roger Mahony and Bernard Law from the College of Cardinals would be a good start.

    As far as indulgences are concerned, that is not a fallacy; that is a historical fact. It’s what led to the Reformation, remember? And, before you go off on Luther and the Protestants, please keep in mind that, on this specific issue, they were right.

  11. DHippolito says:

    BTW, Andy, when I said that I was interested in the Pope’s “actions now,” that automatically disregards any past mistakes.

  12. irishgirl says:

    What the Monsignor said! AMEN!

  13. PostCatholic says:

    Amen. This entirely jibes with my impressions of Cardinal Ratzinger on the two occasions I met him.

    I think as Benedict XVI, he could acknowledge more forthrightly that some of the responsibility lay in poor personnel decisions and poor oversight by the Vatican, and I still am waiting for the removal of several administrators from positions of any responsibility. That’s a disappointment to me. But I don’t doubt the Pope’s righteous anger or genuine compassion for the victims, or the truth of Msgr. Scicluno’s words.

  14. JMJT says:

    I am sick over the fact that Bishop McCormick of NH continues as Bishop.
    Waiting 1 more day to get rid of McCormick is far too long.