How do you view Pope Benedict XVI so far?

He has gone much further than his predecessor. In particular, he handled the case of Father Degollado in a strong and open manner. That was most important because it wasn’t just words, it was actions. When he was in the United States, he went further than any pope had before, and he promised to do all he could to eradicate the problem. What I want to know now is what will he do, and when.

You also say that you want to have systematic studies and investigations to see what was behind the abuse.

Both of abuse, and of the response to abuse. And I want to see that go beyond the immediate issue of abuse and look at issues of power and sex, which are inevitably brought in.

Are you familiar with the John Jay College study commissioned by the U.S. bishops?

I most thoroughly approve of it. I thoroughly commend the bishops for commissioning it. It’s the best thing that’s happening anywhere in the world…Put that in, because I’m not contrary to American bishops on everything. They’ve done something no one else has done…[John Jay] is a respectable institute. It’s independent.

The pope is coming to Australia for World Youth Day in July. Will he need to address this abuse issue again?

It would be good. His major focus is World Youth Day. I would not wish to do anything to destroy that focus. But there will be opportunities and I would like to see him, somewhere, at sometime, address this issue. It will not be the dominant issue of his visit, because that will be World Youth Day.

In traveling around the United States, do you see differences between American and Australian Catholics?

I think the similarities are far greater than any differences. There are the same divisions.

Even in terms of questions you get at your talks?

There’s greater anger against the bishops here, I’m sensing that…I’m not saying there’s no anger there [in Australia]. I just can’t avoid the sense of a greater anger here.

On a personal level, what kind of toll has all this taken on you? Friendships and relationships?

That’s still to work itself out. I can’t answer that question. I think it’s too early. It’s probably made me friends and lost me friends.

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