The Pope Wants To Have It Both Ways On Bishops Hiding Sex Abuse
supposedly ‘progressive’ pope had appalling message for bishops
When it comes to Catholic bishops’ handling of the Church’s widespread, decades-long sex abuse scandals, Pope Francis wants to have his wafer and eat it, too. That was abundantly clear from a pair of statements he made while in the US, and on his way back to Rome.
According to The Guardian, on Wednesday, Francis congratulated U.S. bishops on the way they have dealt with the sex abuse scandals that have been rocking the Church in the last few decades.
“I am also conscious of the courage with which you have faced difficult moments in the recent history of the church in this country without fear of self-criticism and at the cost of mortification and great sacrifice,”
“Courage”? “Sacrifice”? Quid ais Infernum, Pater?
A sweeping investigative reporting series by GlobalPost has recently revealed that priests who came under investigation for child sexual abuse in the US have been popping up in parishes across South America. Fugitive priests were found in Paraguay, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil. At least one of the priests admitted on camera to molesting a 13-year-old boy in Jackson, Mississippi.
Far from showing courage and sacrifice, American bishops, and the overall Church hierarchy, have swept one of history’s greatest crimes under the world’s biggest rug. As the first Latin American Pope, it beggars belief that Francis is unaware that his home continent is serving as a safe haven for America’s Church-protected pedophile priests.
The Guardian also reported that the group SNAP, or Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, was quick to respond to the Pope’s disgusting kudos to bishops,
“We’re sad that Francis claims US bishops have shown ‘courage’ in the abuse crisis. Almost without exception, they have shown cowardice and callousness and continue to do so now,” said Barbara Dorris, the group’s victims outreach director.
“They offer excuses, exploit legal technicalities and hide behind expensive lawyers and public relations professionals, hardly the marks of courage,” she said.
“We’re also sad that Francis can’t bring himself to call this crisis what it is -– not ‘difficult moments in recent history’, but the continuing cover-up of clergy child sex crimes by almost the entire church hierarchy.”
The website BishopAccountability.org, which curates statistics on the Church’s child rape epidemic, estimates that, since 1950, as many as 100,000 children have been abused by priests who were protected from responsibility by bishops. Since the late 1980s, over 17,000 individuals in the US have come forward to tell their stories of being victimized by clergy.
On his last day in the U.S., the Pope had a different kind of message. He met with a group of survivors of priest sexual abuse, and issued a warning to bishops that they would be held unaccountable if they tried to cover up priest abuse.
The Pope said, for the first time, that bishops who do this are “guilty,”
“Those who covered this up are guilty,” he said. “There are even some bishops who covered this up. It’s something horrible.”
That’s a really nice tautological statement: those who did something wrong are guilty of wrongdoing. The Pope sounds like he thinks people should be surprised to hear that EVEN some BISHOPS covered it up. Yeeeees. Where have you been, Il Papa?
The two statements, congratulating bishops in general, but warning bishops who hide molesters, make no sense taken together. The cover-up was not a case of a few bad apples. It was widespread, across nations and continents, went on for decades, if not centuries, and is ongoing. Congratulating American bishops for their “sacrifice” is tantamount to congratulating them for covering up the Church’s crimes. The warning to bishops addressed to victims, is merely pandering to the crowd.
The Boston Globe was instrumental in starting the critical reporting of the sins of the Church in the U.S. Recently, an editorial in the Globe hammered the Pope, saying he is merely a master of symbolic gestures to rehabilitate the Church’s image, but has done nothing to stop the abuse.
“Like Benedict and even John Paul II, he carefully uses the past tense, subtly suggesting that most of this crisis has passed, when in fact it has not. Like Catholic officials have for ages, he talks of healing but ignores prevention, the area in which firm papal action could make an enormous difference.”
If the Pope, and indeed, the Catholic Church hierarchy in general, were actually serious about rooting out the pederasty rampant in its ranks, it could launch the kind of relentless witch hunt that its power was built on in the millennium that followed the fall of Rome. By not doing this, the Church creates the ongoing perception that the Catholic hierarchy is, in fact, the world’s oldest, largest and most powerful pedophile ring, protected by extraordinary extralegal privilege.
Unfortunately, this supposedly liberal Pope is very good at talking, but not so good at doing anything about bishops who hide child raping priests. He wants to encourage, soothe, even congratulate bishops for how they have “sacrificed.” Then he tells victims he truly feels their pain and pats them on the head for photo ops. Meanwhile, priests who escape American secular justice board planes heading south, rubbing their sweaty hands.
Feature image via Flickr