Pope Francis clergy abuse scandal

The Catholic Church has been anything but straightforward when it comes to addressing clergy abuse, and now Pope Francis is feeling the heat.




The Vatican sex scandal has officially gone global, forcing Pope Francis to summon the world’s top bishops to Rome with the very specific goal of protecting minors. The pontiff called the extraordinary and unprecedented meeting of more than 100 bishops for late February in the wake of both a rolling global clerical sexual abuse crisis and explosive accusations of a cover-up, which now threaten both his papacy and the long-term reputation of the Roman Catholic Church.

The meeting marks a severe Vatican about-face after nearly three decades of denial and laying blame on cultural issues and “bad apple” priests. It also comes on the heels of a leaked study commissioned by the church in Germany that is set to reveal the decades-long abuse of thousands of children by more than a thousand clergymen there, something the bishop of Trier, Stephan Ackermann, has called “depressing and shameful.” It follows a similar grand jury report that exposed the victimizing of more than 1,000 children over decades in Pennsylvania, all under the supervision of a cardinal the Pope once defended.

Decades of Playing Dumb

The Catholic Church has been anything but straightforward when it comes to addressing the abuse.

When the scandal first surfaced in this country in the mid-1980s, Vatican officials dismissed it as an American phenomenon. When it spread to Canada, Ireland, England and Australia, they framed it as an English-speaking country problem. When cases erupted in Germany, Belgium, France and Austria around 2010, it became a ‘developed world issue’ borne out of liberal attitudes toward sex. Now that Chile and the Philippines have been added to the toxic mix, there’s no longer any more room for excuses.

“The subject has to be tackled globally,” declared Marie Collins, an Irish abuse survivor who resigned in frustration from a similar Vatican commission on protecting minors created by Pope Francis just last year. She’s tired of talk. The meeting in question needs to produce concrete actions. Heads need to roll. “There are bishops in parts of the world who don’t even accept that abuse could happen in their dioceses.”

Knocking Down the Wall of Silence

The Commission for the Protection of Minors is supposed to train bishops to spot abuse, listen to victims, intervene and hold each other accountable when necessary. The plan is to apply these standards globally, whether local bishops like it or not.

While current US church policy demands that any sexual abuse allegation be reported to civil authorities, and that abusive priests be permanently removed from ministry, other countries have been allowed to set their own standards. Even the Vatican commission on child sex abuse guidelines for safeguarding children have not been reinforced worldwide.

Although Pope Benedict personally read many of the files about clerical abuse and eventually cracked down on hundreds of priests after the scandal first erupted in 2002, there were high hopes that Pope Francis would tackle the issue systemically, including holding those bishops who covered it up accountable.

However, his special commission’s call for the creation of a tribunal to discipline these very bishops ultimately met with Vatican resistance. “We saw this wasn’t practical and it also wasn’t convenient for the different cultures of the bishops that had to be judged,” declared Pope Francis back then. The proposal was later dropped and explained away in a papal edict entitled “As a Loving Mother,” which only enraged abuse survivors weary of the Catholic Church attempting to police itself.

Will the Abuse Ever Stop?

It remains to be seen whether this is the global meeting and response that finally corrects three decades worth of Vatican denials, missteps and cover-ups. Victims and Catholic Church critics have every right to be cynical. There are only so many meetings, commissions and documents that can be created before the people have a right to demand real, tangible results.

Only once disgraced bishops are exposed for their crimes, removed from the church, and sent to prison will the Vatican be able to begin rebuilding the trust it has lost. It’s time the Catholic Church air its dirty laundry – all of it – for the world to see.

 

25 comments

  1. b0blf says:

    The last paragraph in the above post says it all!

    1. Philip says:

      Any church who thinks it had nothing to do with this kind of pratices should isssue a certificate of NO MISCONDUCT

  2. John Owens says:

    Just going by years of observation here: Every bit of overt repentance being shown here is just for appearances and is damage control only. it should not be considered real or lasting. This church claims to be one, holy, and apostolic. It seems divided, unholy, and apostate.

  3. Ben says:

    Anyone who helped hide these crimes should be charged with aiding and abetting.
    Everyone involved should also be defrocked, if not excommunicated.

    1. Carl Elfstrom says:

      I just wish we had suckers in the clergy at St.Patrick’s in Galveston when I was an altarboy in the nineteen-seventies. Believe it or not, we only had straight priests.

      1. Monique Proulx says:

        Being Gay and being a pedophile are two very different things.

  4. Rev. Rene says:

    Call me a cynic, I have done a number of studies of small, medium, and very large companies: the result is almost universally the same. Small and medium companies will typically address a problem by finding a solution before pointing fingers at a guilty party; large companies hire a PR firm to address the public perception and usually leave it at that!!! Internally no changes are made, or a scapegoat is fired and that is that. ( Why do you think the German Pope left so quickly? He was aware of the problem and was known for being guilty of a cover-up) Here we see a large corporation head, the Pope, going through the motions of trying to alter perception: What can we do to make the church of Rome more likeable, more acceptable to the faithful? For decades this abuse has been covered up, the problem for the church is not the victims but the perception and face of the church!

    1. Rev.Rene says:

      It has been said: A mirror when soiled can be wiped clean with work and effort, a mirror once broken can never be repaired!!!

      1. Gary Hynous says:

        This problem can never be wiped clean. Two of our daughters were molested by two members of our family and 40 years later they still bear the mental and physical scars. Sorry Rev. Rene, but this mirror is not only dirty but also irreparably broken. Ask any victim of a pedophile. These priests should be defrocked, publicly humiliated and sent to prison. Granted they will be ultimately judged by the powers of heaven, whoever and whatever they might be but their immediate judgment should come here on earth. As a former Catholic, this whole issue really saddens me.

      2. Carl Elfstrom says:

        Broken mirrors don’t have to be repaired, for you can see yourself just as well through every fragment of it. However, that’s nothing like taking personal inventory. Those pedophile priests ought to join Sexaholics Anonymous and work the twelve steps.

        1. Carl Elfstrom says:

          P.S. And they have twelve step meetings in prison, so I’ve heard.

  5. Barry says:

    All involved parties should be removed
    From their positions and prosecuted.

    1. Jean says:

      I agree and I am catholic!

  6. Catherine Ohrin-Greipp, MSW, OM says:

    First off, this is not a “sex scandal” so stop trying to equate it with such ULC. It is a sexual abuse and is hardly about sex. It is about pedophilia,and predatory behavior by priests. Enough talking Catholics I wish to say to these useless bishops and the pope:. All allegations of sexual abuse should be referred to state child protective services, law enforcement, including interviewing the victims followed by referral to state or county DA’s for charges and criminal court, conviction and incarceration. These creepy men in long dresses are disgusting to hide behind their so called “His Holiness” garbage. I know the damage these criminals have done to their victims. I have treated hundreds of them over many years, both male and female, adult survivors of sexual abuse as well as children as young as 5. I have also treated convicted pedophiles including Pastors and Christian youth pastors. These “religious” pedophiles hide behind their silky robes, and white collars and commit soul murder of victims. Lock them up, stop wringing your hands Mr Pope, Mr Bishops and make rules that mirror society.

    1. Monique Proulx says:

      Catherine. Why do they get to make their own rules? These crimes happen on US soil, so US laws should prevail. Should they not?

      1. Catherine Ohrin-Greipp, MSW, ADS, OM says:

        Of course, that is what I said. State laws define child sexual abuse and state make laws determine the parameters of investigation, trials, convictions, sentencing and lifetime probation. Priests should be treated the same as any other sexual predator/criminal. How the RC church gets away with it is disgraceful. They should all be incarcerated to protect society..

  7. Colleen says:

    It’s not a Catholic Church issue it’s widespread through all religions and highly covered up worldwide such a shame!

    1. b0blf says:

      Colleen: You know better than that. It IS largely a Catholic Church problem. The Catholic ‘celibacy’ issue is NOT normal, nor is it Biblically advocated.

      There is a greater temptation/opportunity for sexual abuse to take place when a bunch of ‘intimacy -starved’ males are in the private company of the vulnerable.

      NO way is this tragedy to be excused. AND, NO way is this tragedy to have been ignored/excused/covered up! There must be severe legal consequences for these crimes.

      1. Catherine Ohrin-Greipp, MSW, OM says:

        I am sorry to inform you that celibacy has nothing to do with pedophilia. A lot of people think that with no evidence. What this mistaken belief does is to let these pedophile priests off the hook. It is not about :”temptation.” It is about specific men who are attracted to children and adolescents and they choose an occupation where they have free access to children who are taught to revere them. I have treated enough pedophiles and they go through a process of :grooming children and their parents to trust them and then threaten victims to maintain secrecy. Pedophilia is not about “intimacy starved males” because “intimacy” is not part of the equation. Attraction to children begins in adolescence. I have treated pedophiles who admit becoming aroused just watching children eat hamburgers in McDonald’s.

  8. Lea Weisenbach says:

    The church has always had dirty laundry. Way back..the burning of witches..to the not saying a word about the Jews marching by to their death.
    This church is a crime…Why do you think so many other churches through the years have broken away from the pope..

    Some laundry is so so soiled it can’t get clean…Just trash it.

  9. Pastora Wanda says:

    The urge to have sex for pleasure and/or propagation is an inherant act of being human. To deny this inherant act or pleasure is not normal for any human/animal. Why does the catholic church want to deny their clergy both male and female this fundamental/basic need and desire. This is not natural and most certainly is contributory to the long time sexual abuse associated with the catholic church. Solution to the catholic churches sex scandal/dilemma is to allow all its clergy to marry and propagate. Stop this nonsense now. What is the reason/purpose of such a regulation prohibiting marriage and sex to begin with. Maybe this should be explored. There are perverts and deviants everywhere, and they all need to be delt with in a most severe form.

    1. Bro. Chas says:

      Intelligently worded Pastor Wanda. I’m not sure it would solve the problem if they would allow them to marry and propagate, but it surely would have a positive impact on lessening the occurrences.

      1. Iconoclast says:

        I thought that was why they kept the vestal virgins around.

  10. Old Bill says:

    Lower the age of consent to twelve. That will solve the problem. If the child is offended, he/she can file an assault charge with the police.

  11. Tom says:

    Just compare Christianity to Islam. Christianity won’t seem so bad after that. Smearing campaigns almost always work.

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