Cardinal Hummes, the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Clergy, has written a letter to priests in anticipation of the closing of the Year for Priests in June. In writing to priests at this time, he quite rightly addresses the scandals that have been the focus of the world's media. His concise summary is a model of how to address the matter in a balanced and just way:
It is true that, albeit proportionately small in number, some priests have committed horrible and most serious crimes of sexual abuse upon minors, deeds that we must condemn and rebuke in an absolute and uncompromising manner. Those individuals must answer for their actions before God and before tribunals, including the civil courts. Nevertheless, we also pray that they might achieve spiritual conversion and receive pardon from God. The Church, for her part, is determined neither to hide nor to minimize such crimes. Above all we are on the side of the victims and want to support their recovery and their offended rights.Having said this, he [Claudio Cardinal Hummes, from Brazil, Perfect for the Congregation of the Liturgy] addresses the priests of the world with warmth and affection. He is particularly enthusiastic in his invitation to priests to travel to Rome for the gathering of priests from 9-11 June. He says that the Holy Father wishes to confirm the priests in their vocation and that it will be an opportunity for the priests to support the Holy Father:
On the other hand, it is absolutely unacceptable to use the crimes of the few in order to sully the entire ecclesial body of priests. Those who do so commit a profound injustice. In the course the Year for Priests, the Church seeks to say this to human society. Anyone possessed of common sense and good will knows it to be the truth.
There is yet another particular motivation for the presence in Rome of numerous priests for the conclusion of the Year for Priests, which is found at the heart of the Church today. One speaks of offering to our beloved Pope Benedict XVI our solidarity, our support, our confidence, and our unconditional communion, in the face of the frequent attacks direct towards Him, at this moment of time, in the field of his decisions with regard to clerics involved in crimes of the sexual abuse of minors. The accusations directed towards Him are obviously unjust, and it has been shown that no one has done as much as Benedict XVI to condemn and to combat properly such crimes. Therefore, the large presence of priests in the Square with Him will be a determined rejection of the unjust attacks of which he is a victim. So then, come as well to publicly support the Holy Father.