Tag Archives: Cardinal O’Malley

The Rubber Hits the Road


Pope Francis, of all people, cannot allow the issue of the cover up of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church to become a matter of a left and right political prism.

Or will he?

Neither can his commission on sexual abuse.

Or will they?

Pope Francis, who in a myriad of other situations, is a rise above the usual cleavages of power man, has chosen to defend the appointment of Chilean Bishop Juan Barros by defining the opposition to the appointment as falling into a politically categorized sphere with the intent of discrediting the opposition.

The video of his explanation which was filmed in May but surfaced publicly recently is in the following news story:


The core issue in this case is whether Bishop Barros of the Diocese of Osorno covered up abuse.

On September 27, the day of his departure from Philadelphia, Pope Francis met with sexual abuse victims. What he said to the victims was released in a transcript provided by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He spoke publicly about his meeting with sexual abuse victims before a gathering of United States bishops and bishops from other parts of the world on the same day.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops transcript quotes Pope Francis as telling the victims and the others in the room in the private meeting, “Words cannot fully express my sorrow for the abuse you suffered.”

And also from the transcript, “I am deeply sorry for the times when you or your family spoke out, to report the abuse, but you were not heard or believed. Please know that the Holy Father hears you and believes you.”

Pope Francis said, according to the transcript, “I pledge to you that we will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead. Clergy and bishops will be held accountable when they abuse or fail to protect children.

To the bishops, Pope Francis said in an unscripted text, “God weeps for the sexual abuse of children. These cannot be maintained in secret, and I commit to a careful oversight to ensure that youth are protected and that all responsible will be held accountable.”

These comments were widely interpreted by news commentators to mean that Pope Francis would hold to account bishops and clergy who covered up abuse.

The rubber has now met the road.

To get to the truth, Pope Francis, who has no problem speaking with anybody, needs to speak to the Chilean victims beginning with Juan Carlos Cruz, who has testified that Bishop Barros was present when he and other victims were abused by Fr. Fernando Karadima.

The Pope’s commission on sexual abuse needs to hear Cruz’ testimony.

Exchanges of emails between two cardinals, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, a member of Pope Francis’ kitchen Cabinet, and Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati which were published by a Chilean newspaper and have been confirmed as authentic, are discussions of how to keep Cruz from speaking.

The chair of the commission, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, bears particular responsibility to see that Cruz speaks before the commission but other commission members bear great responsibility also.

The commission is running the risk of becoming a paper tiger blowing in the wind allowing cardinals to veto who speaks before it and who doesn’t.

And the wind has been especially strong in favor of protecting bishops who covered-up.

It is evident that the appointment and continuation in office of Bishop Barros is hurtful, to say the least, to sexual abuse victims.

Since the words of Pope Francis seem to mean that the Church isn’t interested in hurting victims, isn’t there any other priest in the Diocese of Osorno capable of being the bishop?

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

The Fixer


The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) applauds the efforts of the two survivors on the papal commission regarding sexual abuse, Marie Collins of Ireland and Peter Saunders of the United Kingdom along with the two other commission members who supported their efforts to raise the issue at the Vatican of the unacceptability — to put it mildly — of Bishop Barros’ appointment and installation as the head of the Diocese of Osorno, Chile.

Survivors in Chile accuse Bishop Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid of covering up for the Rev. Fernando Karadima whom the Vatican convicted of abuse in 20011. Three Chilean survivors accuse Barros of witnessing their abuse by Karadima

While we applaud the actions of the commission members, we are appalled that they are the people who had to initiate the action to speak with the commission chair, Cardinal Sean O’Malley and through him seek to get the attention of Pope Francis.

Cardinal O’Malley, who not only is president of the papal sexual abuse comission but is a member of the Pope’s kitchen cabinet, formally known as the Council of Nine, gets a newspaper and has access to radio, television, and Internet – and as a blogging Cardinal he certainly knows how to use the technology of communications.

He is not unaware by a longshot of the protests and objections to Bishop Barros and the reasons why this appointment needs to be rescinded.

It is Cardinal O’Malley who should have assured the members of the papal sexual abuse commission that he had already contacted Pope Francis and the issue would be front and center on this week’s meeting of the Council of Nine with Pope Francis, eliminating any need for the survivors and the other two commission members to travel to Rome or entreat him to seek redress of this appointment that insults and hurts survivors.

But Cardinal O’Malley didn’t take that action. He continued his long history as a fixer for the Vatican regarding sexual abuse beginning with his appointment in 1992 as the bishop of Fall River, MA as a clean up action of the revelations of the notorious abuser James Porter.

Sitting at a meeting with survivors and agreeing to convey their sentiments to another authority is a hallmark of Cardinal O’Malley’s. He has finely honed the skill of the appearance of action and empathy.

If you enjoy theater, Cardinal O’Malley’s performance that builds yet another protective tent for hierarchs while continuing to disguise him as a champion of reform is stellar.

The news reports of the meeting that the commission members held with Cardinal O’Malley on Sunday evening reveal that all Cardinal O’Malley agreed to do was raise the issue with Pope Francis. An issue, mind you, that the commission members had to bring to him, not one that he could see beforehand.

We have no doubt that Cardinal O’Malley was true to his word. He brought the issue up at a session of the Council of Nine with Pope Francis present. What that did was result in the speaking about what the Pope and Cardinals already know — there is opposition to the appointment of Bishop Barros by survivors and members of the papal abuse commission.

ZENIT’s report of the Council of Nine’s meeting includes these paragraphs http://www.zenit.org/en (Ninth Meeting of the Council of Nine Concludes):

During the meeting of the Council of Cardinals, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, president of the Commission for the Protection of Minors, discussed the theme of accountability regarding superiors (either bishops or religious) of priests involved in cases of abuse.

The Council went on to evaluate the methods and procedures in confronting the “failure of responsibility” and “abuse of office” on the part of authorities responsible for supervising.

According to Fr. Lombardi, Cardinal O’Malley met on Sunday with members of the Commission for the Protection of Minors, who asked him to “make present to the Pope their worries on those who have important roles in the Church and their qualifications for assuming adequate responsibility for the protection of minors.”

A “precise and reliable legal text” will thus be assessed that defines the responsibilities of superiors, Fr. Lombardi said.

What Cardinal O’Malley has done is open a huge umbrella of protection for Bishop Barros.

Cardinal O’Malley, as he is expert at doing, has pushed the ephemeral, ever promised “accountability”, once again into that beautiful future that is always described and tantalizingly almost within reach — but never arrives.

in the wonderful future constructed by Cardinal O’Malley to protect his brother bishops while looking like he is taking up the cause of survivors, Barros will not have failed at responsibility. His “failure” will have occurred before he was appointed as a bishop when he had no “responsibility” — outside of a moral one but, hey, he was only a priest not a bishop.

No “precise and reliable legal text” that may or may not come about in the future will touch him — nor any of his colleague bishops who have aided and abetted the rape and sodomy of children by protecting the clerics and religious men and women who molested them.

And no one is promising that any such “reliable and legal text” will be adopted, only as the statement says that it will be “assessed.” Cue the mack truck, please.

If Pope Francis wanted to hear the survivors he could have met with them in the Saint Martha guesthouse or any place in the Vatican. If he wanted to talk with the Chilean victims he could.

If Cardinal O’Malley really wanted to make a difference he could. After all, he has a telephone and we know Pope Francis has one. So does Cardinal Marc Ouellet who heads the Congregation for Bishops.

This issue could have been resolved before the appointment was made, at the time the survivors made known their views in news stories, when the interruption of Bishop Barros’ installation ceremony took place, when the numerous letters and contacts were made to Pope Francis, and before the Vatican issued the statement of the Congregation for Bishops backing the already-made appointment.

Whenever a ranking prelate wants to quash the appointment of a cleric to a bishopric it happens — let alone when a pope objects.

We hope that all men and women of goodwill remember that bishops become bishops and remain as bishops because of the actions of popes — including very popular and charming popes.

There is much more at work in this appointment. The influence of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who has had overbearing influence in Chilean matters, cannot be discounted.

Cardinal O’Malley knows that.

He also knows that Cardinal Ouellet is sitting as the Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops because of the number of votes he received for pope in the last conclave.

Cardinal O’Malley also knows that it borders on the near-impossible that Bishop Barros’ appointment will be rescinded.

Now, the only face-saving action for Pope Francis and the Vatican and Bishop Barros is for Bishop Barros to — or appear to — voluntarily resign.

If he wanted to, Cardinal O’Malley could be a fixer for that.

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


Media Release

National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC)

Statement on the Conclusion of the Meeting of Pope Francis’ Commission on Sexual Abuse

For Immediate Release

Dayton, OH

May 3, 2014

We now have a commission that’s met.

That is the only thing that’s happened.

All of those who have protected priest and religious sister perpetrators remain safely in their positions of authority in the Church, except the dead ones. And for that, the Lord, not a Pope, took action.

The commission’s words are lovely: hope, future, accountability, education, best practices – and the ever popular: some where off in the future we are going to do something.

Where’s the beef?

This is more like pheasant under glass – ritzy, protected, and not nourishing for the masses.

We hope the commission enjoyed their three days in Rome, it’s a marvelous city but — no child is safer.

It is interesting to note, that while Cardinal O’Malley, says the commission will be proposing that bishops will be held accountable, notably absent (according to news reports) from the Vatican Congregations/commission/authorities with whom the commission had contact, was the Congregation for Bishops.

The status quo couldn’t be quo-er.

— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition, NSAC, KristineWard@hotmail.com 937-272-0308

(National Survivor Advocates Coalition is an all volunteer organization of in-the-pew Catholics and men and women of goodwill advocating for justice for survivors and their families and working for the protection of children and the education of society regarding sexual abuse by those in religious authority)