Clergy sex abuse scandal undermines Pope Benedict's crusade to reclaim Europe

Scandals mushrooming across the continent
Days after being elected pope, Pope Benedict XVI referred to one of Europe’s patron saints, Benedict of Nursia, as he explained his choice of papal name to thousands of pilgrims massed in St. Peter’s Square. “He represents a fundamental point of reference for the unity of Europe and a strong reminder of the unrenounceable Chris tian roots of its culture and civilization,” the new pontiff said on that sunny April morning in 2005.

Now, five years later, Benedict is reeling from reports of sexual abuse scandals mushrooming across Europe that risk undermining a central mission of his papacy: promoting and reviving Europe’s Christian heritage. Worse, some analysts say, the scandals may accelerate the drift away from the Roman Catholic Church that has been under way in Europe for decades.


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