Why Have You Forsaken Them?


The question has to be asked.

It has to be asked of Pope Francis.

There is no better week to ask it than Holy Week.

No better words than those of the Lord’s.

Words wrung out in the ebbing away of life. Words labored and laden with anguish, pain, and abandonment.

It has to be the place where the Chilean victims and by extension all survivors of sexual abuse by priests and religious are today in the face of the brutal slap they have received from Pope Francis’ backing of the declaration of the Congregation for Bishops supporting Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid as the newly appointed and installed bishop of Osorno, Chile.

This is the Chilean bishop whose installation was interrupted by loud protestations within the cathedral. And how often has any Catholic seen that happen?

The Vatican’s press statement said this:

Prior to the recent appointment of His Excellency Msgr. Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid as bishop of Osorno, Chile, the Congregation for Bishops carefully examined the prelate’s candidature and did not find objective reasons to preclude the appointment.

For those who cannot bring themselves to think that Pope Francis does not back this appointment, please read on from the report in ZENIT:

Fr. (Ciro) Benedettini’s (Vice Director of the Holy See Press Office) statement echos those of Archbishop Fernando Chomali Garib of Concepcion, who in an interview with Chile’s El Sur newspaper on March 26th, stated that he spoke personally with Pope Francis regarding the appointment.  

“All the documentation that I cited came to him (Pope Francis), whether through the nunciature or the Chilean Embassy to the Holy See. He was very much up to date on Bishop Barros’ situation, and in fact, a few days prior he had spoken with him,” Archbishop Chomali said.

“With firmness and much conviction, he told me that he had analyzed all the past records and that there was no objective reason that Bishop Barros should not be installed as diocesan bishop.”

Here is the link to the ZENIT news story on this issue: http://www.zenit.org/en

The Congregation’s action is not surprising, sad but not surprising – and given the history of the public revelations of the sexual abuse crisis, it could have been anticipated: this band of brothers hangs together.

But for this Father, the Holy Father of this band of brothers to have heavy lidded eyes through which mercy cannot penetrate is a stinging whip or rebuke to survivors.

Is this truly the only person who could be the Bishop of Osorno, Chile?

The Chilean survivors have told the world that Bishop Barros was a witness to their abuse by Fr. Fernando Karadima.

Survivors carry enough burden in their lives. Abusers and their protectors are plentiful in number and there is no need to invent them or create a spectacle in a cathedral as a headline grabbing flashpoint overtaken soon enough by the next spectacle. Does anyone really think these protestors had nothing else to do that day?

Where is the concern of this bishop for the survivors that he would not lay down this position of bishop or not accept it in the first place?

Who are the poor?

What does a Jubilee Year of Mercy mean if not to overlook and overcome the self and seek the good of the other and seek it in an overflowing abundance of love?

In yet another ZENIT news story, we read that Pope Francis has been named by Fortune magazine as the fourth “greatest world leader.”

The ranking are given, Fortune says to “extraordinary men and women who are transforming business, government, philanthropy, and so much more. ”

Fortune said Pope Francis “has been shaking up the management of one of the world’s largest bureaucracies: the Roman Catholic Church.”

“It is not just that he has led by example—by now it’s well known that the pope, who has long championed the virtues of charity and modesty, has forgone the traditional suite in the Apostolic Palace, opting instead to reside in a one-bedroom apartment in the Vatican guesthouse.”

“Less known is how decisive he is in personnel choices,” the magazine continued, “replacing the boards of the Vatican Bank and its main regulatory body with highly respected business-people from around the globe.”

Despite perhaps some pushback, “this pontiff is not easily conned,” Fortune says. “This, after all, is a pope who lives his own lessons.”

The personnel choice here is a bad one.

The rubber is hitting the road and the smell is not sweet.

It is important to be clear here by making and letting this appointment of Bishop Barros stand Pope Francis is declaring that he is not going to take action against those who aided and abetted abusers. He is going to protect them.

We have Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City- St. Joseph as a glaring example of that.

Now, Bishop Barros.

The problem of sexual abuse needs no other hand for its correction than Pope Francis’.

This appointment gives the back of it to survivors.

With all the power needed and necessary residing in him, the question has to be asked: Why has Pope Francis, who so clearly hears the cry of the poor, the innocent, the vulnerable and the marginalized, forsaken the survivors – the very children who were striped naked, brutalized, raped and sodomized by the agents of the Church over whom he has absolute power?

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


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