ROME — Even as Pope Benedict XVI, faced with a sexual abuse scandal spreading across Europe, has called on victims to come forward and urged clerics to cooperate with civil justice, those strong words are running up against the complexities of his past.
“He is at a crossroads,” said Marco Politi, a veteran Italian Vatican journalist. “What’s extraordinary is that the scandal has reached the heart of the center of the church. Up to now it was far away — in the States, in Canada, in Brazil, in Australia. Then it came to Europe, to Ireland.
“Then it came to his motherland,” Mr. Politi added of Benedict’s native Germany. “Then it came to his diocese, and now it’s coming to the heart of the government of the church — and he has to give an answer.”