Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos
Former Vatican official Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, who congratulated a French bishop for hiding a sexually abusive priest, said his action was backed by the late Pope John Paul.
Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, who was the Vatican official in charge of priests around the world when he praised the French bishop in 2001, made the remark about John Paul during a conference in the Spanish city of Murcia, according to a Reuters report on the DNA news website.
His comment came after a Vatican spokesman indirectly confirmed that a 2001 letter to the bishop posted on a French website on Thursday was authentic and was proof the Vatican was right to tighten up its procedures on sex abuse cases that year.
By invoking John Paul, Castrillon Hoyos appeared to up the ante in a subtle Vatican power struggle over who was to blame for past failures to deal effectively with the abuse cases whose revelations in recent months have shaken the Church, the report said.
"After consulting the pope ... I wrote a letter to the bishop congratulating him as a model of a father who does not hand over his sons," the Spanish daily La Verdad quoted Castrillon Hoyos as telling the conference on Friday, to a round of applause from the assembled prelates, priests and lay people.
"The Holy Father authorised me to send this letter to all bishops in the world and publish it on the internet."
Castrillon Hoyos's letter, written in French in 2001, praised Bishop Pierre Pican of Bayeux-Lisieux for not denouncing a French priest, Rev. Rene Bissey, who was later sentenced to 18 years in jail for the repeated rape of a boy and sexual assaults on 10 others.
Pope John Paul backed praise for hiding abuse: Cardinal (DNA/Reuters)