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Posted at 1:15 PM ET, 04/22/2010

Controversial cardinal won't be at Mass

By Washington Post editors

Organizers of a elaborate Latin Mass this Saturday say they’re going to fly in the bishop of Tulsa to lead the event, replacing a controversial cardinal who sparked outrage for his response to the clergy sex abuse scandals.

Bishop Edward J. Slattery of Tulsa will take the place of Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, said leaders of the Paulus Institute, which is organizing the unique Mass to be celebrated in Latin at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Hoyos had agreed on Wednesday that another official should celebrate the Mass on Saturday after victims and activists against clergy abuse voiced outrage at his invitation because of recent reports that Castrillon, of Colombia, once praised a French bishop for not telling police about a priest who had sexually assaulted children.

Castrillon, the former head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, has been hammered in the public arena since a 2001 letter he wrote to French Bishop Pierre Pican surfaced last week in French news reports. In it, he praised Pican for not reporting the pedophile priest to police, despite being mandated to do so under French law.

At the time the letter was written, the priest, the Rev. Rene Bissey, had been sentenced to 18 years in prison for repeatedly raping a boy and for sexually assaulting 10 other children. Castrillon later ignited another firestorm when he claimed that Pope Benedict XVI’s predecessor, Pope John Paul II, not only approved of Castrillon's letter but also instructed him to send copies to bishops worldwide.

The Paulus Institute, which was formed in 2007 to preserve older forms of worship, had spent three years planning for the unique Mass, which is celebrated in Latin and involves eight other priests and several elaborate components. The institute’s leaders said they had invited Castrillon in 2008 because he has experience with such complicated Masses.

Slattery, organizers said, is similary versed in the “Pontifical Mass,” which includes eight other priests, eight torchbearers, two children’s choirs with more than 100 singers, Gregorian chants, 16th-century music and incense.

-- William Wan

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By Washington Post editors  | April 22, 2010; 1:15 PM ET
Tags:  Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, Darío Castrillón Hoyos, Mass, Pope John Paul II, Sexual abuse  
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