The Interview, The Denial, The G-8

It’s an understatement to say that survivors’ lives are difficult.

They carry burdens, scars, and pouches of psychological festerings that can protrude in unlikely ways and places.

It’s not an overstatement to say that the abuse is always present tense no matter when it happened.

It seems the first rule of the Church and particularly its leaders should be in line with Hippocrates’ thinking: First, do no harm.

That hasn’t been what’s emerged through a media swollen with the interview and reports of the interview given by Pope Francis to Jesuit colleagues, the letter written by Pope Emeritus Benedict and the imminent opening of the gathering with Pope Francis of the eight cardinals he tapped to be a chapel cabinet.

The wide ranging Pope Francis interview spanned  three question sessions and a copy of the interview was provided to him for review in Italian and approved before publication and translation.

That doesn’t leave much, if any, wiggle room that the great void of non-mention of sexual crisis, the largest crisis in the Church since the Reformation, was the fault of a hasty process, quick on the fly, shoe horned in sessions, bad translation, misinterpretation of meaning and intent. 

It does leave an opening, however, in the Pope’s defense that the interviewer didn’t ask about it. But Pope Francis doesn’t strike us as a person that wouldn’t find a way to inject what he wanted to talk about in any forum that presented itself – most particularly one he could control.  

The interview carried a reference to “wounds” of the Church. We believe the Church and its leaders are in too deep, too many have been harmed, too little has been done in the right way to subject the faithful and men and women of goodwill throughout the world to figuring out the code words – if indeed, this was a veiled reference to the crisis.

After all, there were no code words in the interview for the subjects of abortion, homosexuality, women, — all as the saying goes “ hot button” issues. Neither interviewer or interviewee had any trouble with plain language on these topics.

Coming on the heels of the interview was the denial of Pope Emeritus Benedict that he hid the sexual abuse crisis.

This statement rests for credibility on the underpinning of not being able to prove a negative.

Because the documents of the diocese Benedict headed in Germany, and the Congregation he headed at the Vatican where the sexual abuse cases were centralized more than a decade ago, and his papal papers are not  public, it cannot be known if he hid the crisis. It can be known that he was not a champion of ripping the lid off of it. The revelations that have unfolded across the globe are testament to that. The fact that the Diocese of Kansas City- St. Joseph, Missouri’s Bishop Robert Finn continues to hold his position is testament to that.

The courage of the survivors is what has brought us and continues to bring us the truth. This is the opposite of not hiding.  

That brings us to the meeting of the chapel cabinet.

The agenda for the October 1-3 meetings has begun to circulate.

The sexual abuse crisis is not on it.

Our support, admiration, and continued marveling at the resilience, fortitude and determination of the survivors to heal, to protect children, to seek justice only grows in the face of what has been perpetrated upon them in the latest media attention to the new and the old occupants of Chair of St. Peter.

Think today about what you can do to lift a survivor’s burden.

Think again about it.

Resolve to act on it.

Then act on it.

It’s the right thing to do.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)


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