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THE PAPACY of Benedict XVI has been marred from the start by the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal, which the hierarchy has handled horrifically from the moment it was revealed. The Pope refused to defrock one priest who molested 200 deaf boys.

The documents emerge as Pope Benedict is facing other accusations that he and direct subordinates often did not alert civilian authorities or discipline priests involved in sexual abuse when he served as an archbishop in Germany and as the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer.

The Vatican and Rome seems to be in complete shock over the announcement.

Citing advanced years and infirmity, Pope Benedict XVI stunned the Roman Catholic world on Monday by saying that he would resign on Feb. 28 after less than eight years in office, the first pope to do so in six centuries. – [New York Times]

The news came with a simultaneous statement that a new pope will be elected by Easter.