Pope John Paul II authorized a letter of support sent by Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon to a French bishop who had decided not to report a sexually abusive priest to the police, the cardinal says.
The cardinal had come under fire after the letter in which he praises Bishop Pierre Pican for his response to the rape charges and had called him an example for other members of the church.
“I congratulate you for not denouncing a priest to the civil administration,” the now-Medellin cardinal wrote in the letter. “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 Holy Father John Paul II authorized me to send this letter to all bishops of the world and we put it online,” Castrillon was quoted as saying by Spanish newspaper El Pais.
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.