John Paul ‘ignored abuse of 2,000 boys’
Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer abused an estimated 2,000 boys for decades without sanction
When John Paul II died five years ago the crowd that packed St Peter’s Square for his funeral clamoured “Santo subito (Saint now)!” in a spontaneous tribute to the charisma of the Polish pontiff.
As the faithful marked the anniversary of John Paul’s death on Good Friday, however, he was being drawn into the scandal over child abuse in the Catholic church that has confronted his successor, Benedict XVI, with the worst crisis of his reign.
Allegations that the late pontiff blocked an inquiry into a paedophile cardinal, promoted senior church figures despite accusations that they had molested boys and covered up innumerable cases of abuse during his 26-year papacy have cast a cloud over his path to sainthood.
The most serious claims related to Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, an Austrian friend of John Paul’s who abused an estimated 2,000 boys over decades but never faced any sanction from Rome.
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Groer’s successor, criticised the handling of that scandal and other abuse cases last week after holding a special service in St Stephen’s cathedral, Vienna, entitled “Admitting our guilt”.
Schönborn condemned the “sinful structures” within the church and the patterns of “silencing” victims and “looking away”.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – who became Pope Benedict – had tried to investigate the abuses as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, according to Schönborn. But his efforts had been blocked by “the Vatican”, an apparent reference to John Paul.
Read morePope John Paul II Blocked Inquiry of Paedophile Cardinal Friend Who Abused 2,000 boys