Catholic Bishops Praise Pope for Handling of Sex Abuse Crisis

Meanwhile, critics question pontiff's moral credibility, call for resignation

Chicago's Francis Cardinal George and other U.S. Bishops on Tuesday praised Pope Benedict for his leadership as others question the pontiff's moral credibility in the midst of the current priest sex abuse crisis.

"We know from our experience how Pope Benedict is deeply concerned for those who have been harmed by sexual abuse and how he has strengthened the Church’s response to victims and supported our efforts to deal with perpetrators," George, as the President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement. 

"We continue to intensify our efforts to provide safe environments for children in our parishes and schools. Further, we work with others in our communities to address the prevalence of sexual abuse in the larger society."

As well, the Cardinal and his leadership team concludes:

"...we bishops have made a vigorous commitment to do everything in our power to prevent abuse from happening to children. We live out this commitment through the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which calls us to respond with compassion to victims/survivors, to work diligently to screen those working with children and young people in the Church, to provide child abuse awareness and prevention education, to report suspected abuse to civil law enforcement, and to account for our efforts to protect children and youth through an external annual national audit."

The entire statement is available on the Web site.  It is the first statement the Chicago Archiocese has made on the sex abuse case.

Survivors in Milwaukee who allege Rev. Lawrence Murphy abused them while they attended St. John's School for the Deaf are especially upset with Pope Benedict XCI's remarks over the weekend, urging Catholics "not to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion."

Headlines over the weekend said the pontiff was made aware of the abuse of 200 deaf boys years ago when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.  The Vatican denies there was a cover-up.

Meanwhile, Barbara Blaine, the Chicagoan who has founded SNAP -- the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests -- opened a new SNAP office in London.

She and several SNAP members have spent the last week overseas encouraging survivors of abuse to speak out.

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