Clergy abuse victims on Tuesday called for the Pope Benedict XVI and the Archbishop of Washington Donald Wuerl to ban Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon from leading a special Latin Mass in the U.S.’s capital on Saturday.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a support group for victims of abuse by the church, faxed letters to the Washington Archbishop and to the Pope’s representative in Washington, requesting that they stop Castrillon from celebrating the Mass, reports The Washington Post.
The Colombian cardinal is under fire due to a letter he wrote to a French bishop in 2001, in which he praises the bishop for deciding not to report a sexually abusive priest to the police.
“This cardinal’s letter may be the single most hurtful thing we’ve seen written in the last decade,” said David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP.
“We believe it’s crucial that church officials create a climate that encourages victims and witnesses and whistle-blowers to expose predators. And when wrongdoers are honored, it creates the opposite climate,” the director said, adding that allowing Castrillon to attend the Mass “rubs salt into the already deep and fresh wounds.”
The now-Medellin cardinal headed the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy at the time he wrote the letter. In it, he praised the French Bishop saying, “You have acted well and I am pleased to have a colleague in the episcopate who, in the eyes of history and of all other bishops in the world, preferred prison to denouncing his son-priest.”
Following the critique over his letter, the then-clergy prefect, says the letter was approved by Pope John Paul II personally before being sent.
The Catholic Church is being heavily criticized for its response to numerous complaints of sexual abuse by priests. U.K. professor and atheist Richard Dawkins said he would file charges for crimes against humanity against pope Benedict XVI before the International Criminal Court.
Castrillon is scheduled to a lead Mass in Washington D.C.’s largest Roman Catholic church Saturday, in honor of the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI’s inauguration.