London: John Paul II, the late Pontiff, has been accused of ignoring the abuse of over 2,000 children during his 26-year papacy by blocking a probe into a cardinal who molested the boys for decades, a media report said.
According to `The Sunday Times`, the late Pontiff getting entangled into the child abuse scandal, involving 2000 odd boys, may cast a cloud over his path to sainthood.
The most serious claims related to Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, an Austrian friend of John Paul`s who abused an estimated 2,000 boys over decades but never faced any sanction from Rome, the report said.
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Groer`s successor, criticised the handling of that scandal and other abuse cases last week after holding a special service in St Stephen`s cathedral, Vienna, entitled "Admitting our guilt".
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict, had tried to investigate the abuses as head of Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but his efforts were blocked by "the Vatican", an apparent reference to John Paul, according to Schönborn.
"I have known Pope Benedict personally during 37 years of amiable acquaintance and I can say with certainty that he made entirely clear efforts not to cover things up but to tackle and investigate them. This was not always met with approval in the Vatican," Schönborn said.
The Groer affair became public in 1995 when former pupils of a Catholic school accused him of sexual abuse. After an outcry, Groer was replaced and made the prior of a convent. He was never punished and issued only a vague apology in 1998 before retreating to a nunnery where he lived until his death in 2003. Some of his victims were offered "hush money" from the church.