Authors defend Pope Benedict, say sex crisis will mold legacy

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Pope Benedict XVI's legacy will be shaped by his response to the explosive global clergy sex-abuse crisis, say two Catholic authors who detail and defend his record in a book published this week.

The Vatican and Benedict are accused of "acts of neglect, cover-up, and disregard for the plight of the victims," they write. Pope Benedict XVI and the Sexual Abuse Crisis: Working for Reform and Renewal is their rebuttal.

Greg Erlandson, head of the Catholic publishing company Our Sunday Visitor, and church historian Matthew Bunson, editor of The Catholic Almanac, take a long view — tracing the church's confrontations with sinful clergy back to the fourth century.

In two current examples in the headlines, the authors argue that Benedict was either unaware of the abusive priest or made a decision in favor of mercy (by declining to defrock a dying Wisconsin priest decades after he abused 200 deaf children).

However, the book also includes a compendium of speeches, letters and documents so readers can draw their own conclusions. The authors discuss their findings (replies have been edited for length and clarity):...

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