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Pope Francis Responds to Sex Abuse Scandal: ‘We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.’

Pope Francis Responds to Sex Abuse Scandal: ‘We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.’

“With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WhLwWNnf3o

About six days after a report dropped that detailed the child sexual abuse by more than 300 priests in Pennsylvania, Pope Francis has released a statement tearing apart those involved in the abuse and cover-up. From The Washington Examiner:

“‘If one member suffers, all suffer together with it’ (1 Cor 12:26),” the pope wrote in his statement. “These words of Saint Paul forcefully echo in my heart as I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons.”

The pope said the crimes uncovered “inflict deep wounds of pain,” and said “no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient.’

“Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated,” he wrote. “The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain, and so it is urgent that we once more reaffirm our commitment to ensure the protection of minors and of vulnerable adults.”

“We have realized that these wounds never disappear and that they require us forcefully to condemn these atrocities and join forces in uprooting this culture of death; these wounds never go away,” Pope Francis wrote. “The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced.”

An 18 month investigation into six dioceses (Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Scranton) revealed that over 1,000 children fell victim to predatory priests. The grand jury wrote that the “[P]riests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it. For decades.”

The Washington Post listed a few incidents:

In Erie, a 7-year-old boy was sexually abused by a priest who then told him he should go to confession and confess his “sins” to that same priest.

Another boy was repeatedly raped from ages 13 to 15 by a priest who bore down so hard on the boy’s back that it caused severe spine injuries. He became addicted to painkillers and later died of an overdose.

One victim in Pittsburgh was forced to pose naked as Christ on the cross while priests photographed him with a Polaroid camera. Priests gave the boy and others gold cross necklaces to mark them as being “groomed” for abuse.

Unfortunately, Pennsylvania State Attorney General Josh Shairo said “he was bound by the state’s statutes of limitation,” which says that “victims of child sex abuse have until they are 30 to file civil suits and until they are 50 to file criminal charges.” This means they probably won’t have many criminal cases linked to this investigation.

The grand jury mentions Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, as one who made efforts to conceal and hide the sexual abuse. He has insisted that he did nothing wrong. AG Shapiro has accused Wuerl of “not telling the truth.” From CNN:

The report is critical of Wuerl, who served as the bishop of Pittsburgh for 18 years, from 1988 to 2006, and describes him as one of the bishops who helped cover up abusive behavior. The cardinal’s defenders note that he acted to discipline some priests as bishop in Pittsburgh and even fought the Vatican against an order to reinstate a predator priest. After the release of the grand jury report on Tuesday, Wuerl said in a statement that it “confirms that I acted with diligence, with concern for the victims and to prevent future acts of abuse.”

The Pennsylvania attorney general disagrees. In a statement to CNN, Shapiro said, “Cardinal Wuerl is not telling the truth. Many of his statements in response to the Grand Jury Report are directly contradicted by the Church’s own documents and records from their Secret Archives. Offering misleading statements now only furthers the cover up.” Shapiro added that the cardinal “should heed the words of Pope Francis who validated our work in Pennsylvania and support the recommendations of the Grand Jury.”

Pope Francis begged for forgiveness and acknowledged that the Church didn’t do what it should have done to protect those most vulnerable:

With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them. I make my own the words of the then Cardinal Ratzinger when, during the Way of the Cross composed for Good Friday 2005, he identified with the cry of pain of so many victims and exclaimed: “How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to [Christ]! How much pride, how much self-complacency! Christ’s betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his body and blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces his heart. We can only call to him from the depths of our hearts: Kyrie eleison – Lord, save us! (cf. Mt 8:25)” (Ninth Station).

It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable. Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others. An awareness of sin helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion.

Philly.com noted that Francis did not write about how “he is prepared to take to sanction those bishops — in the U.S. and beyond — who covered up for sexually abusive priests” and he “scrapped a proposed Vatican tribunal to prosecute negligent bishops, and he has refused to act on credible reports from around the world of bishops who have failed to report abusers to police or otherwise botched handling cases, and yet remain in office.”

The publication also commented on Francis’s cabinet:

Francis also has kept on his nine-member kitchen cabinet a Chilean cardinal long accused of covering up for pedophiles, an Australian cardinal currently on trial for historic sex abuse charges and a Honduran cardinal recently implicated in a gay priest sex scandal involving his trusted deputy.

In Chile, where a church sex abuse scandal exploded earlier this year, Francis strong-armed the country’s 31 active bishops to offer their resignations en masse over their handling of abuse. So far he has accepted five of their resignations.

Francis asked everyone to participate in “penance and prayer” since that “will help us to open our eyes and our hearts to other people’s sufferings and to overcome the thirst for power and possessions that are so often the root of those evils.” He wrote:

May fasting and prayer open our ears to the hushed pain felt by children, young people and the disabled. A fasting that can make us hunger and thirst for justice and impel us to walk in the truth, supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary. A fasting that shakes us up and leads us to be committed in truth and charity with all men and women of good will, and with society in general, to combatting all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience.

Francis concluded:

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it”, said Saint Paul. By an attitude of prayer and penance, we will become attuned as individuals and as a community to this exhortation, so that we may grow in the gift of compassion, in justice, prevention and reparation. Mary chose to stand at the foot of her Son’s cross. She did so unhesitatingly, standing firmly by Jesus’ side. In this way, she reveals the way she lived her entire life. When we experience the desolation caused by these ecclesial wounds, we will do well, with Mary, “to insist more upon prayer”, seeking to grow all the more in love and fidelity to the Church (SAINT IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA, Spiritual Exercises, 319). She, the first of the disciples, teaches all of us as disciples how we are to halt before the sufferings of the innocent, without excuses or cowardice. To look to Mary is to discover the model of a true follower of Christ.

May the Holy Spirit grant us the grace of conversion and the interior anointing needed to express before these crimes of abuse our compunction and our resolve courageously to combat them.

[Featured image via YouTube]

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Comments

We, and when I say “we” I mean “us humans”, have been dealing with this for many, many, many years now. Is it ever going to stop?

Pope Francis’ words are empty. It’s painfully obvious that the Catholic Church as an institution is not only a magnet, but a sanctuary for this kind of perversity.
Resignations are not enough. If the Catholic Church really wanted to do something about it, they would be pushing with all their might to get all pedophiles out and into prison. Anything less is just empty words.

    DieJustAsHappy in reply to Exiliado. | August 20, 2018 at 8:14 pm

    “Is it ever going to stop?”

    Sadly, I don’t believe so, because the root of it is sin. And, it will be with us, or so it seems, until the end of Creation. Thinks of the ancient kings of Israel who did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. Was lust, sexual immorality involved? We know it was with King David.

    Also, consider the time of Martin Luther, who was scandalized by immorality he saw in Rome among the priests. Indeed, as I recall, there were those who prided themselves that they only broke their vows with those of the opposite sex.

    So, to make this short, what are we to say to this? Are we to simply to accept what has happened and stoically bear on? By no means!

    First, we ought to be earnestly in prayer that the spirit of the Lord move in such a way that a great reformer be raised up to lead the Church in this turbulent time. Sadly, I think this is beyond the capacity of Pope Francis.

    Second, we ought to be about seeing that our priests and bishops know that we hold them accountable for leading, as the shepherds they are supposed to be, out of the present desert we seem to find ourselves.

    Third, there a great deal of ceremony when a man becomes a priest. When such a man has betrayed his vows and been convicted of criminal deeds, there ought to be a public ceremony whereby he is laicized.

    And, finally, Protestants ought not take any delight in the broken-ness that many are now experiencing, especially those through not fault of their own.

This gets worse before it gets better. Over and above the likelihood that more states will engage in these sorts of processes, the number of recent events will be shockingly high, in spite of all of the “reforms” that have been put in place since the 1990’s. After Vatican II, when the number of vocations declined precipitously, the Church allowed a large number of marginal candidates to be ordained, simply to sustain itself. Having been in the seminary in the 1980’s I saw entirely too many candidates who were admitted who had clear deviancy issues, even after extensive psychological examination. The institution was taking too many chances, hoping that some of these people would not act out on their impulses.

The solution, unfortunately, is that the Catholic Church will need to allow itself to be burned to the ground and start over again. That won’t happen until the established power structure is removed. All of the hierarchy has some culpability and no amount of prayer and fasting will make things right.

They act like this is something new. Read Chaucer.

How ’bout we drop that celibacy nonsense, and allow priests to marry? The priesthood would then be opened up to a healthier class of people.

    They’re sexually assaulting/raping young boys, and occasionally young men. For 70+ years. Non-stop. Very rarely ever girls, but there is a handful. If the vow of celibacy/chastity and bachelorhood is too daunting for a man to become a Catholic Priest otherwise, then the Priesthood is not for them to embrace and dedicate their lives to – to begin with. That’s one of the multiple reasons the Celibacy/Chastity/No Marriage rule exists for Catholic Clergy.

    And, what of the Sisters? Shall Nuns be permitted to be married? To mortal Men? To mortal Women? I don’t think that’s going to be very popular either. Not among the Catholic faithful anyway.

    Personally, I don’t think Same Sex Marriage being part of the Church’s dogma, much less being a-okay for Catholic Clergy, is going to be a winner and solve any Catholic Church problems at all whatsoever.

    DieJustAsHappy in reply to Valerie. | August 20, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    I’ve rather favored the way of the Orthodox Church on this matter. Married men may be ordained to the presbyterate (become a priest), assuming, of course, they are qualified. A single is expected to be celibate. Once ordained to the priesthood, he may not marry.

    It’s also my understanding that a married priest who becomes a widower may not re-marry. And, only single men may become bishops in the Orthodox Church.

    The Catholic Church can well change this stipulation. I think it ought in that not all who would be priests are called to the single, celibate life. However, even if the Church should do so, there remains the matter of priests who are homosexual and refuse to remain celibate. And, then, there are priests who are pedophiles, ones who ought to have never become priests and removed once it is discovered they are.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to Valerie. | August 20, 2018 at 10:09 pm

    How many priests treated nuns as their playthings, and who took the blame for that, most certainly not the priests.

    I became fed up with the catholic faith in elementary school. They are damn lucky they did not get a chance to prey on my children. I find it hard to understand how any catholic can stay with the faith, preying on children is completely unacceptable. I am surprised that we are not reading about pedophile priests being crucified.

buckeyeminuteman | August 20, 2018 at 1:04 pm

Pope Francis is a very busy man. All that talk about border walls and global warming preoccupies his days. Who has time for things like predatory child abuse?

Take all your gold, melt it down and give it to the poor in the form of new schools, housing, medical care, job training.

Then we’ll talk.

And don’t you dare lecture us about political issues again. This continues to happen, all under your so-called leadership. There is no excuse.

You are a disgrace to Christianity.

‘We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.’

Hmmm. Much like the last time this issue hit the headlines.

One thing we can say about the Church . . . it’s reliable.

I’ve seen both sides of this issue.

But unlike most, I’ve seen a priest accused in a shakedown attempt.

    Fen in reply to Neo. | August 20, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    True. And I’ve seen analysis claiming their pedo instances are much less than the national average, although I’m not sure how relevant that is.

    I expect the Police to have a lower rate of criminality, comparing it to the national avg is a non-starter.

    Likewise, I expect the Church to have a lower dose of immorality.

    brightlights in reply to Neo. | August 20, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    A priest wrote a series of online letters describing why innocent priests, and even former priest, stay silent. Simply put: The same kind of blackmail that scientology keep their members in line.

    https://epiphanytampa.weebly.com/pastors-bulletin-article

      In the SCA, when I went to the leaders I respected and admired and they turned on me (Wonder Woman says your skirt was too short and you were asking for it, now get lost), I couldn’t understand egg so many people were acting out of character. So, thinking I must be missing some social convention, I began researching other cases for clues that would explain their betrayal.

      The Penn State scandal is where I found the answer. These were decent honest people who had invested a great deal of time energy and money into the football program. It had become as much a part of their lives as a sibling or spouse. So whenever that program was threatened by a sexual scandal, out cane the long knives.

      After the victim and/or whistleblower was destroyed, they faced their morning mirror and their Conscience cautioned “we may have done some things we can’t live with’”, and their Ego responded “well we going to go on living, so let’s just edit thatt memory – we were righteously defending our football program from false accusations planted by another Big Ten rival. Yes that sounds good”

      Again, I cannot convey how soul-crushing this has been. Imagine, as a female staffer you go to Proffessor Jacobson with info on a sexual abuse ring only to discover he is in on it. And you almost revealed the name of the victim who trusted you to “go to Superman for help”. The world turns upside down.

great unknown | August 20, 2018 at 2:24 pm

No problem. The malefactors will say three “Hail Marys”, put a few dollar into the collection plate, and all will be forgiven.

Of course, if the Church actually takes significant action against those involved, I will admit I am wrong. If.

And Popey, you didn’t “abandon” the children, if only you had. You used them as sex toys.

See you in hell.

How can I get ahold of these investigators? The yearly highpoint of the SCA is a 2 week camping event in Pennsylvania known as Pensic.

I would like to tell them my story – the threats of physical violence, attacks on my marriage, threats of financial ruin through lawfare – all part of the SCA culture that covers up abuse of minors and punishes whistle blowers like me.

I live near DC too, so it would be an easy thing to visit Pennsylvania Congressmen and ask that they apply pressure on the site, potentially banning the SCA from participation.

I think action now would resonate because of this recent report. These people shouldn’t be allowed to get away with silencing and intimidating witnesses.

two of them were lawyers, one a public defender in DC (federal?). Maybe an ethics complaint to the Bar? Maryland police tell me this kind of whistleblower intimidation is illegal, but we know police often misunderstand the law.

Any advice is appreciated. I’m alone on this one and outgunned.

    Fen in reply to Fen. | August 20, 2018 at 3:01 pm

    Certified mail? If I mail a write up to the Pennsic campground owner, or even to the insurance company that covers the SCA, would that hang them out? The certified letter could be used in any future sex abuse lawsuit that they were made aware of the problems? So they would be compelled to take action of some kind just to protect themselves?

    Fen in reply to Fen. | August 20, 2018 at 3:08 pm

    I’m in Maryland. If you know a good attorney let me know.

    Currently, the SCA leadership’s tactics in my area has been two attorneys (members of the SCA, not attorneys for the organization) threatening me with libel/slander lawfare. Along the lines of “Sure, you may be innocent, but it will cost you $30k and 3 years to prove your innocence, do you have $30k and 3 years to spend?”

    I wish my father was still alive. He was a great lawyer and would have checked them.

    JusticeDelivered in reply to Fen. | August 20, 2018 at 10:19 pm

    Their trying to silence you is not surprising. The church is well known for all sorts of self serving scheming.

All this molesting probably cut into the gross revenues.

Day late, Peso short.

To me, that letter seemed to read more like a personal exoneration of Pope Francis’ culpability in all of this than anything else. After 70+ years straight of this same heinous sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults by Catholic Clergy, it reads like just more typical Catholic Church lip service with a heavy focus on it all happening on someone else’s watch, and extra heavy levels of condescending platitudes and pandering with no real end to the abuse being offered in sight.

Meanwhile, though, Jesuit Pope Francis is top-notch and super WOKE when it comes to Politics, Social Justice Activism, Global Warming, and all the other hip, chic, clever, and trendy causes that all the other rich and famous celebrities also plug these days.

Pope Frank, he’s just such the über-mensch. ¯/_(ツ)_/¯

A little perspective is needed.

First – let me state that in no way am I condoning the actions by the following comment.

In the Mid 1980’s, the catholic dioceses of Dallas was rocked by a similar priest abuse story.

One of the items that came out was that approx 5.1% of catholic priests in the USA were pedofiles. While the percent of pedofiles in the general population was less than 1/10 of 1%. According the the same study, the percent of pedofiles in the protestant ministries was approximately 4.5% and other youth organizations (YMCA, etc) was approximately 4%.

The point being is that pedophiles naturally gravitate to professions, activities that have potential targets.

The catholic churches problem wasnt the number of pedophiles amongst its ranks, but the way the church handled the pedophiles, (protecting them, etc). While the other protestant churchs had nearly the same number of pedophiles, they generally kicked them out of the church so that the volume of victims was much less.

As a side note, this is one of the reasons I am opposed to gay scout leaders. While the percent of pedophiles in the gay population is only slightly higher than the percent of pedophiles in the general population, the percent of pedophiles in the gay population that also want to be involved in youth activities is very high.

I agree with buckeyeminuteman . How’s about the Pope clean his own house up before worrying and commenting on the issues of the day.

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