A Dangerous Time

Pope Francis, who gave orders to the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith to act decisively” against priests who rape and sodomize children and minors drug his feet, the Wall Street Journal reports, when it came to complying with the Vatican’s request for national conferences of bishops to set up policies to combat abuse.

We are providing the Wall Street Journal’s story to our readers today.  It’s a Wall Street Journal subscriber only story and we are providing it because of the importance, we believe, it carries and its great impact on survivors, survivor advocates, Catholics in the pew, Catholics out of the pew, and men and women of goodwill.

Here is the link (you may have to copy and paste into your browser): http://online.wsj.com/article_email/SB10001424127887323646604578404304147967618-lMyQjAxMTAzMDAwNjEwNDYyWj.html?mod=wsj_valettop_email

The Argentinian Bishops Conference was headed by Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio.   Twenty-five percent of bishops conference worldwide have not complied with the Vatican’s request. Most of the non-compliers are in Africa.

The Vatican deadline, the Wall Street Journal reports, was nearly a year ago.

Can geography make a difference here or is this a clue to how Pope Francis will respond to the largest crisis in the Catholic Church in the last 500 years?

Friday’s instructions to the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith did nothing to speak to the cover-up by Bishops, the other half of the horrendous scandal and Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, the Congregation’s Prefect, can’t do anything but jawbone about the removal of criminally convicted Bishop Robert Finn who still heads the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Missouri.

This is a dangerous development.

This pope in the era of good feeling stage of his papacy has no trouble making his point of view known in the actions he has taken to simplify the outward signs of his office: his clothing, where he lives, and how he takes possession of his basilica as Bishop of Rome.

His Friday remarks and the Wall Street Journal’s reporting on his action juxtaposed to the widespread favorable response he has received could create a climate that puts the survivors not in a position of deserved greater attention but in a position of being the party spoilers drowned in a new tsunami of pushing them into the background again.

The background is where the pain is.

Catholics must resist this.

So must all men and women of goodwill.

Priests particularly should examine carefully what happened on Friday. Pope Francis spoke of the crisis in terms of priest perpetrators – no mention of Bishops. No one argues that priest perpetrators should not be acted upon decisively but what about the other half of the crisis: the enablers of the crimes? Priests  grumbled and chafed privately when the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) geared its policy making in 2002 to priests only.

In the reviews of this policy over the years, no additions were ever made to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People to deal with Bishops and Cardinals who obstructed justice, moved perpetrator priests around from parish to parish, opened avenues for perpetrators to flee the country or failed to report child pornographers as  did criminally convicted Bishop Robert Finn of the  Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph  who stills heads this diocese.

And so starts a new papacy with what it appears to be the same policy as the USCCB and the same policy as the former pope.

NSAC urges its readers to remain vigilant to the papal response on clergy sexual abuse.

NSAC urges its readers in this time of euphoria particularly  to  watch the actions of this Pope.

What gets said is one thing. What matters is what gets done .

The beginning of a papacy is an immensely important time.

No one should demure or be cowered or believe that just a little bit more time is the answer.

The only thing that has brought action in the sexual abuse crisis is public attention.

Silence is the culprit.

Eliminate it.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) KristineWard@hotmail.com


2 thoughts on “

  1. Kay Goodnow

    I concur with Tom Myles 1000%. It is also up to church employees, teachers, parents, friends and neighbors to report any suspicious activity. Predators frequently threaten their victims not only with the fear of hell, but with the idea that something “bad” could happen to members of his/her family. Be aware at all times, and DO report. Your efforts will be appreciated.

  2. Tom Myles

    In the WSJ article Maeve Lewis, executive director of the Dublin-based One-in-Four abuse victims group is reported to have stated many of the thousands of abuse cases that have surfaced across Europe in recent years were reported decades after the fact, because children were afraid to come forward at the time of the abuse. “Unless you have well-trained personnel in place to receive disclosures, you’re not going to get them,” she said.

    The quote fails to consider that only 10% of childhood age victims ever come forward, and there should never be any pressure on any victim to come forward. Further, it is unrealistic to think that victims would come forward to the Church, rather than civil officials If the Church wants to reach out to victims it should release all information it has on abusers and those who concealed the abuse.

    Victims have every right to remain anonymous, but the Church can help victims, known and unknown, by revealing all its dirty secrets, While Pope Francis can supply leadership, it is up to each and every priest to reveal all he knows.


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