Skip to main content

Priest calls for pope's resignation

From Adam Reiss, CNN
Click to play
Priest speaks out against Pope
  • Many parishioners express support for sermon
  • Pope and church under fire amid reports of sexual abuse
  • "I believe the truth needs to be spoken," priest says

East Longmeadow, Massachusetts (CNN) -- The phones are ringing off the hook at the parish of St. Michael's Church, where the Rev. James Scahill called in a sermon last weekend for the pope to resign over the church's sexual abuse scandal.

Pope Benedict XVI has found himself tied to the crisis after news broke last month that 30 years ago, when he was an archbishop, he approved accommodations in his diocese for a priest accused of child sex abuse so the priest could undergo therapy.

The priest, who was not identified, was let go from church service in 2008, according to church officials in Germany.

"If he can't take the consequences of being truthful on this matter, his integrity should lead him, for the good of the church, to step down and to have the conclave of cardinals elect a pope with the understanding that the elected pope would be willing to take on this issue, not just in promise," Scahill said.

His church has received more than 100 emails and dozens of calls, of which only two were negative, Sister Betty Braughan said.

Scahill, a longtime critic of the sexual abuse crisis in the church, said the Vatican is responsible for the controversy and believes that it is wrong to blame the media for perpetuating the scandal.

"I have met with countless victims of abuse. I have lives I can relate this to, and you know anyone with an ounce of intelligence knows the media has not created this scandal," he said. "The institutional church has brought this onto themselves."

The priest complimented the church on its programs for better protection of children over the past eight years but added, "The last temptation, the greatest treason, is to do the right thing for the wrong reason."

The church took action after years of sexual abuse only because it had been exposed through the media, Scahill said.

Although he has received great support from his parishioners, he admits it has been hard to speak out against the church and the pope.

"This has not been a healthy thing for me. It's a lot of stress, but I believe the truth needs to be spoken, and I believe the people want to hear the truth and [that] they are sick of the smoke and mirror approach."

Bishop Timothy McDonnell, whose diocese includes Scahill's parish, said it was a sad irony that Scahill gave his sermon on Divine Mercy Sunday, "a day on which the church throughout the world re-affirms Christ's forgiveness, reconciliation and mercy towards all his followers."