Canada’s top Roman Catholic cardinal, Quebec City Archbishop Marc Ouellet, is denouncing allegations Pope Benedict XVI covered up cases of sexual abuse by priests.
In a statement released Friday, Ouellet, who is primate of the Roman Catholic Church in Canada, accused members of the media of having ulterior motives for their attempts to link the Pope to cases of sexual abuse.
The Pope has always shown a "zero tolerance" attitude towards sexual assaults committed by members of the clergy at each step of his career in the church, said Ouellet.
Claiming anything to the contrary would be to "profoundly misjudge this man of compassion and justice," he said.
Oullet’s younger brother, Paul, a former teacher, is currently serving a community sentence of 15 months in Quebec's Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, after he pleaded guilty in 2009 to two counts of sexual assault against two young people.
The cardinal has refused to comment on his brother's trouble with the law.
The Vatican is facing one of its gravest crises of modern times as sex abuse scandals continue to plague the Pope.
On Friday, the New York Times reported that in the early 1980s, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was aware of a decision to transfer a German priest suspected of sexual abuse back to his pastoral duties, within days of beginning psychiatric treatment.
While head of the Vatican office responsible for disciplining priests, Ratzinger is also alleged to have halted the church trial of a Milwaukee priest accused of molesting some 200 deaf boys between 1950 and 1975.
In an editorial on Friday, the National Catholic Reporter in the United States called on Benedict to answer questions about his role "in the mismanagement" of sex abuse cases, not only in the current crisis but during his tenure in the 1980s as archbishop of Munich and then as head of the Vatican's doctrinal and disciplinary office.