WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Pope Benedict, celebrating a stadium Mass for 45,000 people, acknowledged on Thursday that the U.S. pedophile priests scandal caused “indescribable pain and harm” to victims but asked Catholics to love their pastors.

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“It is important that those who have suffered be given loving pastoral attention,[…]” he said during Mass.

Um, Ratzi, I’m pretty sure that loving pastoral attention was the problem.

Senor Hitchens has already discussed Pope Ratzinger’s total failure to adequately deal with the sex scandal, as well as his continued sheltering of Cardinal Bernard Law.

The Catholic Church has failed so miserably in dealing with this enormous scandal – they continue harboring and protecting pedophilic priests and their accomplices, and have spent far too many of their resources saving face and casting blame rather than dealing with the problem. To date, they’ve reformed seminary training to prepare priests for a life of celibacy, they’ve issued an official document incorrectly (and disgustingly) linking sympathies to homosexuality with pedophilic tendencies…

I simply have trouble understanding how practicing Catholics can call themselves Catholics. Obviously American Catholics are picking and choosing from the dogma to strengthen their own values, and there’s the element of family and tradition – but I don’t see how Catholics can stick with the church after this. The church still officially shelters the protectors of child rapists, and blames atheism for the decay of society. Shame on them all. I simply don’t understand what the breaking point would be for a member of the Catholic Church. What would it take before they said “this has to change radically, or I’m out for good”? Why are concerned parents still paying to send their kids to faith schools? Why are they still tithing?