Pope Benedict XVI said all society must be held to the same standards against sexual child abuse and defended the Catholic church’s response in handling the series of child abuse scandals that have marred their institution starting in the 1980s.
Benedict made the statement on Saturday at the Vatican in remarks to visiting US bishops, insisting the “scourge” of pedophilia is a problem for every institution, the Associated Press reported.
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"It is my hope that the Church's conscientious efforts to confront this reality will help the broader community to recognize the causes, true extent and devastating consequences of sexual abuse, and to respond effectively to this scourge which affects every level of society," the pope said.
"By the same token, just as the church is rightly held to exacting standards in this regard, all other institutions, without exception, should be held to the same standards."
His remarks against sexual abuse of children come after Penn State university’s recent sex abuse scandal that involved former defensive football coordinator Jerry Sandusky being charged with molesting eight boys.
The pope did not address any of the church’s pedophile cases specifically or accusations that the church has systematically tried to cover up the scandals.
The explosion of Catholic sex abuse cases in the past decade led to investigations that revealed the scope of the church’s history of pedophilia. A 2004 report commissioned by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops concluded that there were 10,667 reported child victims clergy sexual abuse from 1950 to 2002.