Charlotte Catholics heading into Holy Week are thinking not only about the approach of Easter but also about troubling new questions swirling around the leader of their ancient church.
On Saturday and Sunday, Catholics leaving Palm Sunday Masses at three Charlotte parishes indicated that they have long been concerned, even "heartbroken," as one put it, about a child sex abuse crisis that has rocked dioceses in the United States, Ireland - and now Germany, where Pope Benedict XVI previously served as archbishop of Munich.
Recent news reports allege that, in 1980, he approved the transfer of an abusive priest to another jurisdiction. Then in the 1990s, when he was the Vatican's top doctrinal official, he was allegedly made aware of a Wisconsin case in which the church failed to defrock a priest accused of molesting 200 deaf children from the 1950s to the 1970s.
The Vatican has strongly denied any wrongdoing by the pope, and some Catholics interviewed over the weekend said they stood by the pope - if not the church's overall handling of clergy sex abuse scandals.
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