The Independent Newsweekly
Issue Date: September 5, 2003
Vatican official comments on Geoghan murder
By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Emphasis on pedophilia by priests in the United States seems like a means of sullying the image of the church, as if someone wants to take away its moral force, according to a senior Vatican official.
The comments from Archbishop Julian Herranz, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, were among the few Vatican reactions to the murder of ex-priest John Geoghan on Aug. 23.
Herranz granted an interview to the Roman daily La Repubblica Aug. 25. A member of Opus Dei, Herranz, 73, is in effect the Vaticans attorney general.
Herranz referred to the death as a painful incident. As soon as I heard, I prayed for his soul and for his aggressor, he said.
Asked what lesson the church might draw from the episode, Herranz replied, That there is always the reality of sin in the world, in this case the sin of homicide. What caused this we dont know. We cant judge. Now all is in the hands of God, the Supreme Judge. Only he knows how to judge because he knows that even the most persistent sinner in the end can repent. Maybe Geoghan in prison had already begun to repent for the evil he did.
Asked if the Holy See was succeeding in crushing the problem of pedophilia in the church, Herranz said, The drama of pedophilia is a problem that doesnt regard just priests of the Catholic church, but the entire society. Its enough to look on the Internet. I dont understand why its talked about only with the church, as if somebody wants to sully its image in order to take away its moral force.
He continued, But pedophilia is only minimally identified with the church, touching scarcely 1 percent of priests. Meanwhile for other categories of persons, the percentages are much higher.
In any event, this is a very painful question for the church, because the church is the first to condemn pedophilia as an abominable crime and for this reason has launched a very severe discipline with tough disciplinary measures, which are difficult to equal in other civil societies.
National Catholic Reporter, September 5, 2003
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