Vatican rejects call for pope`s resignation

Head of Belgian probe into child abuse by priests had called for resignation.

Vatican City: The Vatican dismissed a "surprising" call for Pope Benedict XVI`s resignation made by the head of Belgian probe into child abuse by priests, a spokesman has said.

Child psychologist Peter Adriaenssens, the head of a church-backed probe in Belgium, said in an interview that the pope should take responsibility for hundreds of abuse cases that were uncovered.

"The pope should not resign, he should continue to do what he is doing to lead the church, to give us the correct direction, and it is naturally up to us to put it into practise," Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said on the French website of Radio Vatican yesterday.

"One cannot compare the pope with a minister of state," said Lombardi, who said he was "a little surprised" by Adriaenssens` statements.

On September 10, Adriaenssens released a report by a commission he led which revealed that nearly 500 people reported abuses by priests since the 1950s and 13 victims committed suicide.

"The pope should not content himself with just expressing regret," Adriaenssens said in an interview with Flemish-language newspaper De Morgen published on Friday. "He should offer his resignation."

"We should be able to say that after everything that has taken place within the Church, one person is taking responsibility," he said.

"Since the problem is not just in Belgium but has spread worldwide, the pope must set an example."

Revelations of abuse carried out by priests in Belgium, Ireland, the pope`s native Germany and the United States have plunged the Catholic Church into its worst crisis in decades.

The pope met victims of clerical abuse during his four-day visit to Britain last month, Lombardi said.