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Dershowitz defends Pope’s handling of abuse scandal, blames law enforcement

October 04, 2010

Alan Dershowitz, the famed Harvard Law School professor and civil liberties lawyer, has defended Pope Benedict’s handling of the abuse scandal in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“I think Pope Benedict has probably done more to protect young children since becoming Pope than any previous Pope,” he said. “I don't think it's right for non-Catholics to get deeply involved in the governance of the Church.”

“Look, there are terrible people in any institution, and there are some very bad cardinals,” added Dershowitz.

I actually sued Cardinal Glemp, the primate of the Polish church for virulent anti-Semitism. He blamed the Russian Revolution and alcoholism on the Jews. And a cardinal from Honduras blamed the sex scandal on the Jews. But the Pope hasn't done that. He's blamed the scandal on the Church itself, on bishops, on priests, he's sought forgiveness, he's taken steps to change everything. And I think today, being a young Catholic altar boy is a very safe place to be - not in the 1970s and '80s, but today the Church has taken real responsibility and is looking forward.

“I think that there is merit to the concerns about how extensive the abuses were within the Church,” he continued. By the way, there have been comparable abuses in other religious institutions, in schools, parental abuse of children. It's a very widespread problem. We're beginning to come to grips with it and understand it. It is one of the most under-reported crimes in history, child abuse. It's also an over-reported crime. There are people who are falsely accused.”

“And largely it was the fault of law enforcement,” he added. “Law enforcement had no barriers to going in and aggressively prosecuting these crimes. And many prosecutors just refused to do it. They may have been afraid of the Church, they may have been afraid of their constituents, but you don't blame the Church when law enforcement fails to prosecute.”

“When you had bishops or cardinals, if there were any, who took efforts, took steps to get priests from one jurisdiction into another, that would be criminal conduct.”


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  • Posted by: Obregon - Oct. 04, 2010 11:24 PM ET USA

    Indeed it is surprising to read Alan Dershowitz actually defending the Holy Father. That, in itself, is a miracle!

  • Posted by: - Oct. 04, 2010 3:34 PM ET USA

    Occasionally good things come from unexpected directions. Thank you, Alan.