Tag Archives: Pope Francis

Finding Survivors


Thanks to the Wall Street Journal, it should now be apparent to every Catholic in the United States that the Roman Catholic Church is fully capable of initiating and funding a massive public relations campaign with top drawer talent when it wishes.

Here is the link to the Journal’s new story that will fill you in on how the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) used a campaign of social media to promote Pope Francis and his recent trip to the United States.


Take a listen to the USCCB communication’s officer:

“This is certainly a new area for the church and a place we felt we needed to be to reach those we weren’t able to reach before,” said James Rogers, USCCB’s chief communications officer.

And it’s impressive whom and what the USCCB used to make its connections, as the Wall Street Journal reports:

The campaign included outreach to 120 influencers, such as Ms. (Bette) Midler, and 1,300 others on social media in both English and Spanish, as well as the creation of real-time videos, GIFs and other content. With the papal visit, USCCB wanted to shift from a “model of broadcast communication” to a more engaging dialogue in real time, Mr. Rogers said.

We agree. We believe that the Church needs to reach those that it hasn’t been able to reach before – and in large number that’s the sexual abuse survivors and their families.

Enlisting Bette Midler and 199 other “influencers” is a fine place to start the hunt for other survivors of a rapist and sodomizer when there is a survivor who comes forward.

And a fine place to start when a lawsuit is filed.

And a fine place to start when a police report is made.

And a fine place to start when a priest or religious sister or religious brother are placed on administrative leave because of credible allegations of abuse.

We urge our readers and those who contribute to collection plates to take a look at the website of the firm the bishops employed: http://golin.com and please don’t miss Golin’s tagline:

Go All In is our commitment to bravery over mediocrity.

One thing that the Wall Street Journal story doesn’t provide is the answer to how much the USCCB paid for Golin’s services.

In reality, although the contract was placed by the USCCB, it is Catholics in the pews who paid for Golin’s campaign.

The money the USCCB spends comes from the collection plates. The USCCB is funded by assessments on dioceses in the same way as the dioceses are funded by assessing the parishes.

What the USCCB, according to the Journal, was promoting was the “pope’s message of goodwill.”

It may be difficult for those contributing to the collection plates to understand why bishops felt the need to spend money on “influencers” to promote Pope Francis, one of the all-time best communicators of his message.

Maybe not, perhaps those who contribute to collection plates will not think their money was spent as a redundancy.

The bishops may have been banking, pardon the pun, on the collection plate contributors to replenish the coffers.

Whatever the bishops’ motivation and the funders’ motivation was, the bishops did undertake the campaign, and they were successful.

And on those grounds we agree with the USCCB communication chief Mr. Rogers and his look forward, “Our task now is to look at how best we can operationalize this.”

So, now, let’s find those survivors.

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

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

A Thin Tissue

by Kristine Ward, September 28, 2015

So far, it is a thin tissue that Pope Francis and the Roman Catholic Church have handed to God as a comfort to weeping over the sexual abuse victims.

Pope Francis said on Sunday morning in his unscripted remarks to bishops and seminarians at the Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia following his meeting with five victims of sexual abuse that “God weeps” because of the sexual abuse.

Even to get the tissue, the Church had to be driven to the store by massive media reporting, grand jury investigations by civil authorities and lawsuits brought by survivors.

UFO sightings are more credible than the papal holding to account bishops, cardinals, chancellery and curia officials for the cover-up of the crisis.

At least the people who report UFO sightings see something. The Vatican tribunal that is heralded as the vehicle to hold bishops accountable does not exist except in words. It will take five years to set up this tribunal.

Given all of the urgings to go to the margins, be with the poor, protect the vulnerable, give hope to all that Pope Francis asked for this week, the bishops are the only group over whom he has direct control for appointing and sustaining in office.

Every bishop in the room at St. Borromeo Seminary – and any bishop who reads and hears Pope Francis’ words – knows that he has at minimum five years more of protection from accountability.

There have now been seven papal meetings with survivors and we are three popes from  the incarnation of the crisis post-Boston and we have come again only to a promise of accountability. An accountability that is always just a bit further down the road but never happens.

Will any of the 866,000 thousand persons at the closing Mass in Philadelphia, the 20,000 at the Madison Square Garden Mass, the 2,500 at the Vesper Service in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York or the 195 bishops with jurisdiction in United States dioceses’ throw open their parish doors next Sunday and all of next week, next month, next year to insist that the survivors be sought out, welcomed, heard and supported.

Will there be apologies for having shunned the survivors, rebuffed them on the steps of the parishes as they leafletted to protect children and educate parishioners, and for proclaiming that they were money grubbers, and that everything they speak of is history?

Will there be listening to the survivors’ stories and demand for the removal of bishops who aid and abet those who rape and sodomize children, and demand for the dropping of the bishops’ opposition to reform of statutes of limitation, and demand for a complete accounting by name and past and current location of all known pedophile priests and religious sisters and religious brothers?

If that happened, maybe God could count on getting a 2-ply tissue.

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

Many, Many More Images

by Kristine Ward, September 26, 2015

Today, NSAC feels the need to present more images in a welcoming place that we hope will console the survivors and their families and combat the onslaught of images streaming across television screens of Pope Francis.

becky_ilianiWe place the images of Judy Jones, Steve Spaner, John Pilmaier, Peter Isley, Joelle Casteix, Sister Maureen Turlish, Becky Ianni, David Lorenz all of whom have taken to the streets in strong and determined witness of the truth. To speak for survivors. To banish the sought after “it’s history” approach of the hierarchy and its pontiff.

There are more images today because we believe there is more need for comfort for the survivors, particularly in  light of Pope Francis’ second expansive praising of priests and religious sisters who the Pope said, “have suffered greatly” during the sexual abuse scandal.

Pope Francis said this during the Vespers’ service Friday evening in New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral.john pielmaier

Here are his words taken from the full text of his homily:

This evening, my brothers and sisters, I have come to join you in prayer that our vocations will continue to build up the great edifice of God’s Kingdom in this country. I know that, as a presbyterate in the midst of God’s people, you suffered greatly in the not distant past by having to bear the shame of some of your brothers who harmed and scandalized the Church in the most vulnerable of her members…

In the words of the Book of Revelation, I know well that you “have come forth from the great tribulation” (Rev 7:14). I accompany you at this time of pain and difficulty, and I thank God for your faithful service to his people.Peter Isley

Holy Father, no one commits suicide because of embarrassment.

Raped and sodomized men and women who were victimized by priests and religious men and women have committed suicide when the burdens of their molestation which far exceeded embarrassment have overtaken them.

Where are the priests who heard and saw the victimized children in rectories, beach houses, schools, on trips?  Where were they to save these children? Their lips have remained sealed. Where is the Book of Revelation’s burning coals for these lips?Sister Maureen NSAC - Copy (2)

Survivors cannot shed the agony of abuse that they wear like skin each day while a Roman collar or a habit can be laid aside like the pieces of clothing they are.

No one promised priests, religious sisters and religious brothers a rose garden. Pope Francis shouldn’t either.

Pope Francis also singled out the nuns of the United States for high praise:

In a special way I would like to express my esteem and gratitude to the religious women of the United States. What would the Church be without you? Women of strength, fighters, with that spirit of courage which puts you in the front lines in the proclamation of the Gospel. To you, religious women, sisters and mothers of this people, I wish to say “thank you”, a big thank you… and to tell you that I love you very much.Joelle Casteix

The religious sisters were investigated by the Vatican and they with strong supporters among the laity pushed back and were vindicated.

Where are these “fighters” in the battle against rape and sodomy of children by those in authority in the Roman Catholic Church and the bishops, cardinals, chancellery staff and Vatican staff who protect the abusers?

Yes. here and there they are religious sisters who have stood up for the survivors, Sister Maureen Turlish in Philadelphia a prime one, but their numbers are miniscule stacked against the numbers of religious sisters who got their backs up against the Vatican when their properties and their motives were questioned and threatened by the Vatican investigation.

Where are these women whom the Pope loves since they won against the Vatican?david_lorenz

Where is their influence with this new highly heralded Pope to seek justice for the survivors and protect children?

Make no mistake, members of the religious orders of sisters, “the good nuns” abused children, too. When religious congregations were confronted by survivors, the congregations lawyered up just like the bishops did.

The “distant past” isn’t so distant.

It is as close as 9/17/15 when USA Today published an article on Global Post’s expose of US and European priests who are abusers hiding out in the Pope’s home continent. Here is the link to the story: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2015/09/17/us-priests-sex-abuse-relocate-south-america/32551455/

It is as close as the conviction on 9/22/15 of a priest in Somerset County, Pennsylvania Tuesday for as the news story reports “having sex with three boys at a Honduran orphanage that he supported through his nonprofit foundation, transferring money outside the United States to fund his illicit activities and having pornographic photos of children.”Judy Jones

The story goes on to say that these activities went on for a decade. The bishop of the Diocese of Altoona-Johsntown said this about the convicted priest,” I preliminarily removed Father Maurizio from his duties in September 2014. As Bishop, I will continue to work to ensure that the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown takes the action necessary to protect children from harm in the Church.”  ‘’

And this is called “courage” by the boss?

The news story can be accessed here:
Read more: http://triblive.com/news/adminpage/9136740-74/maurizio-passarello-federal#ixzz3mn0rZDbR

Pope Francis heads into Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love, today for the Meeting of Families.

In a place where independence was proclaimed and freedom rang out, we are grateful for those who speak this week on the streets of the cities where the Pope is a guest waging witness against the tyranny of the warping of the truth.

_ Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivors Advocates Coalition (NSAC) KristineWard@hotmail.com 937-272-0308

We Will Wait and See What the Pope’s New Tribunal Will Do

For Immediate Release
June 10, 2015

National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) Statement Regarding Pope Francis’ Acceptance of Papal Commission’s Recommendations Regarding Bishops and Sexual Abuse

Contact: Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) 937-272-0308, KristineWard@hotmail.com

The proof is in the pudding.

We will wait and see.

Trusting in this action will require hope. We will hold out hope that The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith will be capable of a 180 degree reversal of the thinking that permitted, indeed appeared to encourage Bishop Robert Finn, recently resigned from the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph from presiding at ordinations.

If this truly is a back to the drawing board moment, we will watch to see what the new picture looks like.

Sadly, though, there is no indication in today’s news that there will be any action taken retroactively against any Bishop regardless of the preponderance of evidence that has surfaced in the crisis. That’s a pity. Through depositions and other legal disclosures it has certainly become evident that  Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops have protected abusers and caused children to suffer.

Ultimately, it is Pope Francis’ responsibility to remove a Bishop and we hope he does so when a Bishop’s actions have protected perpetrators and caused suffering to children and the adults they become.

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC), based in Dayton, Ohio in the United States is a confederacy of in the pew Catholics and men and women of good will engaged in educating society regarding sexual abuse, promoting legislation to aid survivors, and working for justice for survivors in the church and in the civil society.

The Voluntary Resignation


Voluntary resignation instead of firing is not justice.

It is part of the dance of a gentlemen’s game.

Yes, Bishop Robert Finn would no longer be the head of the Diocese of Kansas City- St. Joseph under either circumstance but it is important to make the distinction.

The permitting of a voluntary resignation allows Finn to retain the financial support that any retired bishop receives from the Roman Catholic Church and gives him a glide path of exit.

With the resignation coming at age 62, — albeit two-plus years beyond when it should have come and been accepted, – that leaves a lot of years for financial support to continue. That support comes from collection baskets, make no mistake about it.

We’d like to hear in-the-pew Catholics raise a bit of noise about this. Many pew occupiers had and have no difficulty slinging arrows of castigation that frame victims of molestation by priests and nuns as money grubbers.

For justice, the survivors with great courage went/go to court against a Church that had and has no problem lawyering up. Victims have been put through a second torture in having to testify about the molestation they have suffered.

Reparations for survivors are not even discussed within the broad forums of the Church.

We don’t think Finn should be allowed a gracious retirement free of any obligation to serve. There are plenty of soup kitchens, food pantries, homeless shelters, and other activities in the Church where Catholics without episcopal rank do the work of the Gospel every day. Robert Finn should be shoulder to shoulder with them.

We don’t think Finn should be allowed to leave Kansas City to find a comfortable life without financial worry.

After all, the survivors are condemned to a world of pain, scars, financial uncertainty, deprivation, mental instability, PTSD, broken relationships, isolation, physical wounds and other horrors every day.

Pope Francis, at the very least, should make clear that a voluntary resignation was a gift given to Finn and he should, as BishopAccountability.org requested yesterday, make clear that Finn’s departure is the result of what he failed to do to protect children in this crisis.

Seeking to clear protestors from the streets of the US cities where Pope Francis will visit in September is undoubtedly part of the Vatican’s double play of the whimper end of the investigation of religious orders of women and the removal of Finn. Do the Chileans have to wait until Pope Francis schedules a trip there to be rid of Bishop Barros?

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) said in its reaction statement yesterday to the news of the removal of Finn, which, semantics aside, is indeed what it was:

It’s about time.   The resignation of Bishop Finn as head of the Diocese of Kansas City- St. Joseph is not a moment for applause in the continuing crisis of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.     It is a moment to ask why it took so long.   It is a moment to ask when the others who protected and continue to protect abusers will be removed.     It is a moment to ask why there are continuing defenders of bishops and religious superiors for predator priests and religious men and women, and diocesan staffs.   May today’s announcement, terse as it was from the Vatican, give a measure of peace to the survivors.

We restate it today with another call for justice and with a hope that those who have been blind and deaf to what has been going in the Church will see and hear.

We restate it today to emphasize that it is now clear that no papal commission needed to be created for papal action to be taken to remove a hierarch who protected an abuser.

We restate it today to lift our voices in a hearty call for all other hierarchs and religious superiors of men and women religious who have done what Robert Finn did – protect an abuser – voluntarily submit their resignations to Pope Francis.

Bishop Finn

National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) Statement on the Acceptance of Bishop Robert Finn’s Resignation by Pope Francis

For Immediate Release – April 21. 2015

Contact: Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) Kristineward@hotmail. com, 937-272-0308

It’s about time.

The resignation of Bishop Finn as head of the Diocese of Kansas City- St. Joseph is not a  moment for applause in the continuing crisis of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church.

It is a moment to ask why it took so long.

It is a moment to ask when the others who protected and continue to protect abusers will be removed.

It is a moment to ask why there are continuing defenders of bishops and religious superiors for predator priests and religious men and women, and diocesan staffs.

May today’s announcement, terse as it was from the Vatican, give a measure of peace to the survivors.

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

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)


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

Hold the Applause, Please


Hold the Applause, Please

We considered not saying anything about the homily delivered by Pope Francis yesterday or the Vatican’s comments about the private meetings he held with six survivors from Ireland, Germany and Great Britain.

Silence for what was, in essence, another round of someday we are going to do something – just you wait – theater seemed the most appropriate match to the events.

It is possible that many of our readers will think we should have stuck with our initial reaction

As the day flowed on and news outlets including the Vatican carried the full text of the homily and characterizations of Father Frederic Lombardi’s comments, we changed our mind.

We changed it in large measure because silence practiced and nearly perfected by the Vatican is a foundational block of why sexual abuse by priests and nuns and the octopus of its cover-up still hangs like the sword of Damocles over the Roman Catholic Church today.

We changed it.   We believe every voice should be raised to rail against the missed opportunity the day presented.

We changed it because of a growing feeling that the possibility existed the real outcome of the day may be spreading of the illusion for Catholics in the pews and indeed men and women of goodwill who seek good intent from this pope that movement was taking place and accountability was happening.

We ask Catholics in the pews and men and women of goodwill to look hard, look deeper, look for the real and ask themselves what has changed in the past 24 hours in regard to sexual abuse.

First, we believe it is important to say that the survivors should not have been asked for anything by the  pope – including forgiveness – no matter how pleasant the pope, how well turned the phrase, how Scripturally linked, how beautifully spoken the ask.

This is not about the forgiveness of the survivors.

This is about what the chief authority in a worldwide institution can and should do about the rape and sodomy of children and its aftermath by the men and women whom the institution gave power to, and sustains with power, and the men and women in the institution who actively blocked aiding these children both as children and as adults and who are complicit not only in sin but in crime.

If this pope – or any pope wanted or wants an accountable Church regarding sexual abuse by priests and nuns, he can have it. He can order it. He can create it. He can make it happen. This simple fact cannot and should not be lost, swept away in lovely language, or overshadowed by gesture.

Eleven years ago, Pope John Paul II said, “ People need to know that there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young.”  Yesterday, Pope Francis made nearly an  identical statement. Full text of the homily:

Full text of Pope John Paul II’s statement http://www.vatican.va/resources/resources_american- cardinals-2002_en.html

How is it that this Church cannot get to the place where these words mean something?

Francis referred to the “sins of omission” that had covered up the crisis. These were not sins of omission. The cover-up by popes, cardinals, and bishops and heads of religious orders was not and is not a passive activity. It was and is intentional and actively worked at and intently created and sustained.

Francis pledged accountability by his Church.

One need look no further than the weekend’s announcement that the Vatican would not turn over the documents requested by the Royal Commission in Australia or closer that the continued sitting of Bishop Robert Finn at the head of the Diocese of Kansas City- St. Joseph to doubt this statement.

In its simplest fashion, yesterday could have been a signal call to Catholics by the Pope to do as he does — to open their parishes that have remained in overwhelmingly large measure cold and castigating toward sexual abuse victims. But he did not do so.

We ask Catholics and men and women of goodwill to examine the events of yesterday and to hold both Pope Francis and the chief architect of the day, Cardinal Sean O’Malley to account.

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