VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday urged Catholics to refrain from judging sinners a day after he rebuked Irish bishops for their handling of a half-century of sexual abuse of minors by clergy.
While the pope made no mention of the Vatican's widely criticized policy of cloaking abuse allegations in secrecy, a Swiss churchman called for the Holy See to start a registry of molester clergy to avoid more shuttling by bishops of pedophile priests from parish to parish.
The pontiff didn't mention his letter chastising Ireland's church hierarchy as he made his weekly appearance Sunday from his studio window overlooking St. Peter's Square. He cited the Gospel passage about Jesus' inviting those without sin to cast the first stone toward an adulterer.
"While acknowledging her sin, he does not condemn her, but urges her to sin no more," Benedict told English-speaking pilgrims in the square. "Trusting in his great mercy toward us, we humbly beg his forgiveness for our own failings, and we ask for the strength to grow in his holiness."
In Germany, meanwhile, the news magazine Focus quoted the head of the German Bishops Conference on Sunday as acknowledging that Roman Catholic church consciously covered up cases of sexual abuse.
Archbishop Robert Zollitsch of Freiburg said that while most cases happened outside the church, "assaults that took place in such numbers within our institutions shame and frighten me."
"Every single case darkens the face of the entire church," he said.
On Saturday, Zollitsch apologized personally for a sexual abuse coverup that happened 20 years ago in a Black Forest community while he was in charge of human resources at the Freiburg diocese.