Thursday, April 04, 2002

Cardinal pays visit to area

Says abuse must be recognized

By Allen Howard,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras would rather save than condemn a sinner.

Cardinal Rodriguez
Cardinal Rodriguez
        That was his response to questions about priests accused of sexual misconduct, an issue that has cast a dark shadow on the Catholic church.

        “It is necessary that the Catholic church recognize the problem of sexual abuse, but as a church we must consider salvation rather than condemnation,” he said in a Wednesday afternoon news conference at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral downtown.

        Cardinal Rodriguez, 59, is the Archbishop of Tegucigalpa. The cardinal will be in Cincinnati and Dayton through Saturday. Mike Gable, director of the Mission Office of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, said Cardinal Rodriguez is visiting to boost solidarity among Catholics throughout the Americas.

        The cardinal admitted that sexual misconduct by priests is a serious problem, but it doesn't mean the church will disappear.

        “We will come out of this with a better understanding of humanity,” he said. “It is necessary for us to recognize this as a sin, but God's grace is more powerful than sin. We must look to the future with hope and not be ashamed.”

        Speaking on other issues, the cardinal:

        • Condemned racism, referring to the problems Cincinnati is having. “Racism is like a virus. It creates death. What this shows is a lack of understanding of humanity.”

        • Said Pope John Paul II's health problems are exaggerated by the media. “I was with him recently and he is healthy. He has some physical limitations, but his mind is sharp.”

        Cardinal Rodriguez will appear at a benefit dinner 6:30 p.m. today at Xavier University's Cintas Center for Su Casa/Archdiocesan Office of Hispanic Ministries.

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