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