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Catholic Priest Sex Abuse Victim Sees Need For Change At The Top

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SACRAMENTO (CBS13) – After Pope Benedict’s stunning announcement Monday that he was retiring as the head of the Roman Catholic Church, many are wondering how the change in leadership will affect the priest sex abuse scandal.

CBS13’s Laura Cole talked with one victim in Sacramento on Monday.

“It’s difficult,” Chico Chavez said. “You kind of become a bystander of life and not really a participant.”

Chavez, who was sexually molested by a Sacramento priest as a child, believes there’s more to Pope Benedict’s decision to resign than just health reasons.

“I think it’s reasonable to assume there are other underlining issues that they don’t make public,” he said.

Chavez believes this pope hasn’t helped the church image, particularly when it comes to the sex abuse scandal involving its priests.

“The apology was forced. It was a reaction to public outcries,” he said. “It was a reaction to losses in court cases.”

He says there’s a need for change and transparency, something most Catholics we spoke to Monday agree on.

“I don’t think you can go wrong with truth, transparency and honesty,” Matthew Roy said.

“If a priest or anybody in the church is committing something as egregious as a sin on a child, there absolutely needs to be more transparency,” Millie Gaebe said.

Change isn’t always easy, but Catholics say they are ready to move on and get past the past. Chavez hopes whoever becomes the new pope will learn from those sins.

“I’d like to see someone who provides the moral leadership to the congregation to have that change come from within,” he said.

A number of the parishioners we spoke with said they’d like to see someone younger become the new pope.

Benedict XVI will remain pope until 8 p.m. on Feb. 28 Sometime shortly after that, the College of Cardinals will gather in the Sistine Chapel to elect a new pope.

There are several potential candidates to succeed Benedict but none considered a front-runner.

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