The Irish Times
Monday, May 31, 2010
PADDY AGNEW in Rome
HELL IS not empty. On the contrary, according to the Holy See’s Promoter Of Justice, Msgr Charles Scicluna, hell is full of paedophile priests.
Speaking on Saturday in St Peter’s at a service of reparation for abuse committed by priests, Msgr Scicluna suggested that priests guilty of paedophile abuse were destined for particular punishment in the afterlife.
Quoting Christ’s teaching that “whosoever shall offend one of these little ones . . . it is better that a millstone were hanged about his neck and he were cast into the sea” (Mark, 9,42), Msgr Scicluna then made reference to the interpretation of Christ’s words as offered by Pope Gregory the Great: “After having taken a profession of holiness, anyone who destroys others through words or deeds would have been better off if their misdeeds had caused them to die in secular dress (ie as a lay person) rather than, through their holy office, being imposed as an example for others in their sins.
“Without doubt if they had fallen by themselves (as a lay person), their suffering would be easier to bear . . . How arid the earth becomes, how sad the world, when this icon of holiness (the innocence of a child) . . . is trampled upon, broken, sullied, abused and destroyed, prompting the Lord to cry out ‘Let the little children come unto me’,” said Msgr Scicluna.
The Vatican’s Promoter of Justice, who fulfils some of the functions of an attorney general for the Holy See, urged a hard line in dealing with abuser priests, calling for a form of “divine surgery”, by which they would be removed from the priesthood and also reported to the relevant civil authorities.
The monsignor, who worked alongside Pope Benedict at the Congregation For The Doctrine Of The Faith, would appear to be reinforcing the words of the pope who, during a recent pastoral visit to Portugal, said the sex abuse crisis was “terrifying” insofar as the greatest persecution of the church was now coming from within.