Catholic Abuse Hotline Overrun Amid New Allegations

The new allegations come on the heels of a New York Times report last week which indicated that Pope Benedict XVI had known about one particularly egregious case in the United States. The Rev. Lawrence Murphy spent years molesting children at a school for the deaf in Wisconsin, but when the case came to the attention of the Vatican many years later, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then led by Cardinal Ratzinger before he became pope, declined to take action, citing Murphy's advanced age at the time.

The pope made no mention of the scandal during his pre-Easter mass at the Vatican on Thursday. But in reference to the Times article, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told the Associated Press that "the pope is a person of faith. He sees this as a test for him and the church." The pope was set to wash the feet of 12 priests on Thursday evening in a gesture of humility.

Even as much of the focus of the growing abuse scandal has been on the Catholic Church, cases from secular boarding schools have also been made public in recent weeks in Germany. In addition, more than 25 former residents of former East German children's homes have reported having been sexually abused during their time in the homes. Manfred Kolbe, a Christian Democratic parliamentarian whose constituency includes a memorial to a former East German youth re-education facility, told the Berlin daily Tagesspiegel that sexual abuse in children's homes "seems to have been widespread."

cgh -- with wire reports

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