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Pope Tells Priests to Be 'Perfect' - 2002-04-22

Pope John Paul has told a new flock of priests to adhere to their vows, to be "perfect." The words take on unusual significance two-days before an unprecedented summit of American cardinals to discuss a sex scandal that has thrown the Catholic Church into crisis.

The Pontiff has called the cardinals to Rome to air the mounting sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Church in the United States.

In a number of dioceses, church members are claiming their parish priests sexually abused them as children. There is evidence that when the victims complained, church higher ups knowingly moved offending priests from job to job.

In an interview on the CBS television program "Face the Nation," Bishop Joseph Gallante of Dallas, Texas said he thinks this week's discussions in Rome will focus on accountability within the Church hierarchy. "...Accountability also to the people in the sense of providing openness and honesty and also safeguarding the most vulnerable people in our society," Bishop Gallante said.

Polls shows that public support of the Catholic church in the United States is at an all time low, with about seven out of 10 American Catholics believing the Church is in crisis and to blame for the sex scandal.

"The Church will survive. But, oh boy, to have to pass through it at a time like this is not easy," said Cardinal McCarrick. Washington DC Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is in Rome, among the Cardinals summoned by Pope John Paul for a communication on the sex scandal.

Cardinal McCarrick said American Catholics should not expect too much from the two-day meeting, which begins Tuesday.

But Cardinal McCarrick hopes a strong policy statement comes out of the summit, one that makes it absolutely clear that sexual abuse by priests will not be tolerated.

Cardinal McCarrick was asked about church officials who prey on children: "I really believe someone who has pedophilia should never return," said Cardinal McCarrick.

Cardinal McCarrick made his comments Sunday on the ABC television program "This Week."