By Nick Pisa in Rome
Published: 12:55AM BST 10 May 2010
Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, 65, who is seen as a possible future Pope, slammed his fellow prince of the Church, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, 83, for dismissing the paedophile priest crisis as "petty gossip."
Cardinal Schoenborn said that Cardinal Sodano, who is currently Dean of the Vatican's all powerful College of Cardinals, had attempted to cover up of a high profile Austrian sex abuse case.
Vienna Cardinal Schoenborn told Austrian Catholic news agency Kauthpress: "The days of cover up are over. For a long while the Church's principle of forgiveness was falsely interpreted and was in favour of those responsible and not the victims."
He added that during the 1990's when Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, the leader of Austria's Catholics was accused of sex abuse a "track of Vatican diplomacy" had muddied the investigation and led to a cover up.
Cardinal Schoenborn said Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Josef Ratzinger and head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had immediately pushed for an investigative commission when abuse allegations against Cardinal Groer emerged.
But Cardinal Schoenborn said that the then Vatican Secretary of State at the time, Cardinal Angelo Sodano indirectly blocked the attempts and Cardinal Groer had simply faded into the background.
The scandal hit Cardinal who was accused of abusing boys, resigned in 1998 without ever admitting his guilt, without any official Church punishment and he died five years later.
Cardinal Schoenborn also accused Cardinal Sodano, of causing "massive harm" to victims when he dismissed claims of priest abuse as "petty gossip" during Easter Sunday Mass at St Peter's.
Two months ago Cardinal Schoenborn acknowledged church guilt during a service for victims in which he openly addressed attempts to cover up abuse.
There was no official comment from the Vatican and it's official newspaper L'Osservatore Romano carried no coverage of Cardinal Schoenborn's attack.
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