Pope Benedict XVI's apparent mishandling of a priest sex abuse case while serving as archbishop in Germany has fueled further outrage in a widening scandal for the Roman Catholic Church in Europe.
The New York Times reports that during his tenure as archbishop of the Munich and Friesling archdiocese in Germany, Benedict recommended a therapy program in 1980 for a priest accused of molesting children. After returning to pastoral duty, the priest was later convicted of sexually abusing minors and was given an 18-month suspended sentence.
In a Friday statement, the German archdiocese acknowledged it had made "serious mistakes" in the case.
But after initially declining comment on the archdiocese statement, Vatican spokesman Reverend Federico Lombardi addressed the issue Saturday and asserted that Benedict bore no responsibility in the matter. "[It is] evident that in recent days there are those who have tried, with a certain aggressive tenacity, in Regensburg and in Munich, to find elements to involve the Holy Father personally in issues of abuse. ... It is clear that those efforts have failed."