With the Roman Catholic Church under pressure to fight clergy abuse, the leader of the local Catholic congregation is criticizing Pope Benedict XVI for his handling of the sex scandal.

"The reality is that Pope Benedict is part of all this," said the Rev. Bob Bussen, who heads St. Mary's Catholic Church in Park City. "The Vatican doesn't seem to have its act together so we get a lot of misfires on a lot of different issues, not just that."

The criticism from Bussen comes amid a wave of complaints about sexual abuse committed by priests around the world.

"In the end, the bottom line is the we have been so busy protecting our priests that we've let our lambs be fed to the wolves," Bussen said in a telephone interview.

Abuse accusations against priests who abuse children are nothing new, he explained.

"As the Catholic Church, we should know better," Bussen said. "This whole scandal has been going on, not decades, but centuries."

The many recent accusations lodged against priests in Europe have "saddened" him, Bussen said.

"It's moving like a tsunami around the world," he said. "It's unacceptable in the world. But it's especially unacceptable in the Catholic Church."

Bussen criticized top Catholic officials for not acting swiftly when they learned about priest abuse.

"The Vatican didn't help us on this," Bussen said.

But dealing with the scandal could be difficult if priests need to be removed from their posts.

"We are still grappling with that one.


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In our system, you're a priest forever and it is very, very hard to remove a priest," Bussen said. "It is part of the nature of the system. You can't fire a priest."

But the scandal will "continue and continue" until the Church weeds out its abusive priests, according to Bussen.

"We're seeing it play out in different countries differently," he said.