Pope says clergy abuse scandal 'badly handled'
UPDATE April 16, 2008, 845 PST:
Today the pope addressed in strong terms the issue of sexual abuse among clergy, saying the matter has been at times poorly handled.
WASHINGTON - Feted at the White House on his 81st birthday, Pope Benedict XVI praised Americans for their deep religious beliefs Wednesday but later told the nation's bishops that the scourge of clergy sex abuse had sometimes been "very badly handled."
Benedict's comments, his toughest critique yet of the U.S. church's worst problem, marked the second day in a row that he addressed the abuse scandal. They came as he addressed the nation's bishops at the imposing Immaculate Conception shrine.
Benedict returned to the clergy sex abuse scandal that has cost the American church more than $2 billion, most paid out to victims in the last six years, calling it a cause of "deep shame." He decried the "enormous pain" that communities have suffered from such "gravely immoral behavior" by priest.
Benedict addressed clerical molesters in the wider context of secularism and the over-sexualization of America. "What does it mean to speak of child protection when pornography and violence can be viewed in so many homes through media widely available today?" he asked.
As the Pope arrived in Washington for the beginning of his US tour, he also celebrated his 81st birthday.
The Pope met with President Bush in an official ceremony today and was holding a prayer service with bishops in the evening.
On Thursday he will be celebrating a mass with over 48,000 people in Washington, expect lots of pics from that here!
Thousands of guests have welcomed Pope Benedict XVI to the White House for his meeting with President George W Bush.
The Pope was greeted with a singing of Happy Birthday on the day he turned 81.
Mr Bush said the Pope's message that "God is love" was needed to "saveman from falling prey to the teaching of fanaticism and terrorism".
Today is Pope Benedict’s 81st birthday. Please remember him in your prayers in a special way today.
Ad multos annos!*
*A traditional birthday greeting, translated loosely as “May you live many more years!”
Rena Dombrosky awakened her husband, Dan, dozing in front of the living room television, to tell him they had won the lottery. So, that night in late March, he presumed they had struck it rich.
Instead of winning the Mega Millions game they sometimes play, he learned that their prize is two tickets to Pope Benedict XVI's papal Mass in Washington D.C. on Thursday. "His first reaction was that if we had won the money we could afford to go see the Pope in Rome," said Rena.
The official welcome ceremony to Washington April 16 for Pope Benedict XVI on the lush south lawn of the White House was a colourful, even cheery, affair. It was full of music, marching bands, waving flags, kind words. Not to mention a spontaneous rendition of "Happy Birthday" for the Pope, who turned 81 that day.
Welcomed by U.S. President George W. Bush and an array of church officials, Pope Benedict XVI began his first pastoral visit to the United States as pope April 15.
The papal plane landed under an almost cloudless sky at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland at 3:51 p.m. EDT, nearly 10 minutes ahead of schedule. The pope was to spend the next two days in Washington before traveling to New York April 18.