Credibility of Catholic Church lost -- Anglican archbishop
Published 03/04/2010 | 05:00
THE Roman Catholic Church in Ireland has lost all credibility because of the child abuse scandal, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.
In a rare breach of ecumenical protocol, Dr Rowan Williams criticised the Catholic Church over its handling of the paedophile priests crisis and made plain his anger over the Pope's plans for a new ordinariate to tempt dissatisfied Anglicans over to Rome.
His comments will add to the cloud gathering over the Pope's four-day visit to Britain in September, when he is expected to give an address in Westminster on moral values in society.
More than 10,000 people have signed a "Protest the Pope" petition on Downing Street's website against the £15m (€16.9m) cost of the visit, which is to be shared by the government and the church.
The Vatican's troubles mounted yesterday when the Pope's personal preacher likened the criticism of the church over the sex abuse scandal to "collective violence" suffered by the Jews.
At a Good Friday ceremony at St Peter's Basilica, Father Raniero Cantalamessa told the congregation, with the Pope listening, that a Jewish friend had said the accusations reminded him of the "more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism".
The attempt to equate criticism of the church with the suffering of Jews is particularly controversial given the accusation that the church failed to do enough to stop the Holocaust. Commenting for the first time on the crisis gripping the Catholic Church, Dr Williams said the paedophile priest scandal had been a "colossal trauma" for Ireland in particular.
"I was speaking to an Irish friend recently who was saying that it's quite difficult in some parts of Ireland to go down the street wearing a clerical collar now," he said in a BBC Radio 4 interview to be broadcast on Monday.
"And an institution so deeply bound into the life of a society suddenly losing all credibility -- that's not just a problem for the church, it is a problem for everybody in Ireland."
Regarding Anglicans who seek to take up the Pope's offer to help them convert, he pointedly refused to give his blessing.
He predicted that just a few people would accept the offer. "They will take advantage of it because they believe they ought to be in communion with the Bishop of Rome. I can only say fine, God bless them. I don't at the moment."
The head of the church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, made only an oblique reference to its troubles when he detailed the need for repentance at Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services in the Armagh Archdiocese.
He was greeted with applause at Armagh Cathedral and at St Patrick's Church, Drogheda.
On a wider stage, he is under increasing pressure to step down, and sources indicated last night that he was likely to announce his retirement by Pentecost in May
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