Victims condemn pontiff's 'PR stunt'
VICTIMS' groups last night criticised Pope Benedict for claiming that revelations of child abuse by the clergy were a "shock" to him.
His comments were "disingenuous" and "utter rubbish", survivors said, particularly as the Pope was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith -- which dealt with allegations of abuse -- for 20 years before becoming pontiff.
"I'm very taken aback that the Pope is shocked at the level of abuse," said Maeve Lewis of One in Four.
"He was managing those allegations for 20 years, so he was fully aware. I find his comments disingenuous."
Christine Buckley of the Aislinn support group, which helps victims, described the Pope's comments as nothing more than a public relations stunt.
"This is utter and absolute rubbish," she said.
"The Pope was aware of paedophiles within his own church. As head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he was well aware of what priests were doing.
"Is he a hypocrite? That's too kind a word for him. This is a complete public relations exercise. It's dreadful, absolutely dreadful.
"I just hope he doesn't have a soft time in England and Scotland, but they wouldn't have the hurt that we have."