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Controversial cardinal replaced for Washington Mass

Archive photo of Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, 1999
Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos was Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy

A Colombian cardinal has been dropped as the main celebrant of a special Mass this week in Washington, following protests by Church abuse victims.

Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos was to preside over a Latin Mass at the National Basilica marking the fifth anniversary of the Pope's inauguration.

Abuse victims had complained that the cardinal praised a French bishop for not denouncing a paedophile priest.

Pope Benedict earlier publicly promised action to deal with the abuse scandal.

Speaking during an audience in St Peter's Square in Rome, he recalled how he had shared the suffering of victims during a visit to Malta.

But the Pope did not go into details about what action he planned.

Saturday's Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception has been three years in the planning.

Protest by Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests in San Francisco (29 March 2010)
A series of allegations of abuse by priests has put pressure on the Church

The Paulus Institute, the organisers of the event, said it had consulted with Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos and agreed to find another celebrant to "help maintain the solemnity, reverence and beauty of the Mass".

The decision to cancel the cardinal's participation came after a number of local priests said they would not attend the service.

On Tuesday, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests called on Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl to stop the cardinal from celebrating the Mass, saying it would send the wrong message.

Last week, the Vatican confirmed Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos had written in 2001 to congratulate the bishop of Bayeux-Lisieux, Pierre Pican, for shielding a priest who was jailed the previous year for paedophilia.

The cardinal was at the time Prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy, which is in charge of priests throughout the world.



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