Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Pope Francis waves as he tours St. Peter's Square at the Vatican in his popemobile prior to his weekly general audience, Wednesday, April 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)
Pope Francis: Church must act decisively on sex abuse
First Published Apr 05 2013 03:56 pm • Last Updated Apr 05 2013 03:56 pm

Pope Francis has called for strong, specific worldwide measures for the Roman Catholic Church to act "with determination" against the clergy sex abuse scandal that has rocked the faith for more than a decade.

It is one of the first actions on a major issue in Francis’ budding papacy, one that has been marked chiefly by attention to his humble, low-key style.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

After he met Friday with the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, the Vatican said in a statement: "The Holy Father recommended that the congregation continue the line sought by Benedict XVI, to act with determination in regard to cases of sexual abuse."

Francis cited measures to protect minors, help victims of sexual violence and necessary action against perpetrators. He also emphasized that drafting and implementing directives by bishops’ conferences around the world is important to the credibility of the church.

Francis concluded by saying, "Victims of abuse are present in a particular way in his prayers for those who are suffering," according to the Vatican press office.

U.S. victims of clergy abuse have demanded swift and bold actions from the new pontiff. In Argentina, where the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was archbishop of Buenos Aires, he won praise for his simple lifestyle and focus on the poor but was criticized for failing to meet with abuse victims.

Friday’s actions also contain another clue to how Francis will be pope: He calls on the various national bishops’ conferences around the world to step up to disciplining priests and serving victims, a possible indication that he will move from a strongly centralized government of the church to one that places increased authority locally.

In another signal, Francis did not emphasize doctrinal issues that have raised the ire of some U.S. Catholics, including a crackdown on American nuns or disciplining rogue theologians, that characterized the office under Pope Benedict XVI.

The abuse crisis exploded on the world stage in Boston in January 2002; by June that year, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops led the world in establishing a zero-tolerance policy for abusive priests, removing them from ministry and reaching out to victims.

But the leading group of victims in the U.S., the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), was not mollified by this sign of action.


story continues below
story continues below

"A good sign doesn’t keep one child safe. Not one," SNAP Executive Director David Clohessy said Friday.

The pope, he said, "is a man who has shown that he understands the power of gesture. And yet, within hours of becoming pope, he met with Cardinal [Bernard] Law, perhaps the most discredited bishop on the planet."

Law was driven to resign as archbishop of Boston when it came to light that the archdiocese had protected and promoted predators and shuffled them among parishes. In the week before Easter, Law, who now lives in Rome, and Francis met at one of the churches where Francis came to pray.

Clohessy said the pope could have taken much sharper action, including calling on all bishops to give all of their files on known abusers to law enforcement and "sit down with secular lawmakers and work for better child safety laws."



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.