Pope Francis Dodges, Weaves and Wobbles on Child Sexual Abuse

Pope Francis missed an opportunity to not repeat his predecessors’ failures on the crimes of clerical sexual abuse of minors.

Last month the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child sharply denounced the Vatican’s failure since 2001 to report data to the United Nations on sexual abuse by priests.


“The Holy See has consistently placed the preservation of the reputation of the Church and the protection of the perpetrators above children’s best interests…”

“The Holy See has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and to protect children, and has adopted policies and practices which have led to the continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators.”

In response to this harsh critique, the Holy See thought it prudent to correct the UN’s “lack of understanding,” justify its policies, claim the Vatican is “a reality different” than other countries, and complain of moral intervention into “doctrinal positions of the Catholic Church.” This response only served to underscore the Committee’s findings on the Holy See’s conduct- the Vatican places its reputation over concerns for survivors of sexual abuse by priests.

Today Pope Francis again dodged, weaved and wobbled on criticisms of the Vatican’s handling of child sexual abuse and went so far as to defend the Church’s record. In an interview with Corriere della Sera, the Holy Father spoke in defense of the Vatican’s actions in dealing with child sexual abuse, saying “no one has done more” to address the issue. “The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution to have acted with transparency and responsibility… Yet the Church is the only one to have been attacked.”

La Chiesa cattolica è forse l’unica istituzione pubblica ad essersi mossa con trasparenza e responsabilità. Nessun altro ha fatto di più. Eppure la Chiesa è la sola ad essere attaccata

The Pope is simply practicing revisionist history.  Penn State faced its own Marcial Maciel Degollado or Father Donald McGuire S.J.  In Gerry Sandusky, Penn State as an institution faced serious consequences for their conduct.  To date, the Holy See has not fired anyone, refuses extradition of a Papal Nuncio wanted for child sexual abuse in the Dominican Republic and is on the verge of canonizing John Paul II who allowed Maciel to go unpunished during his reign.

If the Holy See is going to claim moral authority it will be held to a higher standard, if not by the objective measures of the UN Committee, then indeed by public opinion. In turn, if the Holy See fails miserably to address the documented crisis of clerical sexual abuse of minors, fails to follow the rule of law and continues to put children at risk, the Holy See has earned every bit of criticism.  Some simply call that justice.



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8 responses to “Pope Francis Dodges, Weaves and Wobbles on Child Sexual Abuse

  1. I think we all knew deep down where Francis stands on the sex abuse issue, but hearing his words really hurts.
    Now we know where Pope Francis stands on the issue of the sex abuse of children within the Catholic institution. He states: “The Catholic church is maybe the only public institution to have moved with transparency and responsibility,” —
    His defensive words are very hurtful to so many thousands of victims who were hoping that, just maybe, Pope Francis might be different. That maybe he really does care about protecting innocent children.
    Sadly the pope is badly misinformed about the church officials being responsible and transparent. Or he is just following the same old archaic rhetoric that the previous popes have done. Child sex abuse and cover up by the clergy under his power does not seem to be a big deal to him. Francis words could make a person cry, if we had any hope at all that he might take some decisive actions to get this horrific abuse and cover up stopped.
    Tragically the sex abuse and cover up within the church hierarchy throughout the world is still going on to this day. Cardinals and bishops are still not removing accused predator clergy, and they are still not reporting to law enforcement. Their so called “zero tolerance” policy is not being followed by the bishops who created it. They don’t have to, because there is no punishment to force the bishops to change their ways of protecting their image and the institution rather than protecting children.
    Child predators need to be kept far away from kids forever. So silence is not an option anymore, it only hurts and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.

    Judy Jones, “SNAP” the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests,

  2. At the risk of being self-serving, here was my less-measured response to the pope’s interview:
    Pope Francis has strongly defended the Catholic Church against criticisms leveled in the child sex-abuse scandal in which it has so prominently featured. “No one else has done more” to root out pedophilia, he said.

    “The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution to have acted with transparency and responsibility.
    “No-one else has done more. Yet the Church is the only one to have been attacked.”

    The egregiousness of the assertion leaves me gob-smacked, not least because Francis has built something of a reputation for being kind and straightforward.

    To the best of my knowledge, no one is saying that fucking or otherwise abusing little boys and girls doesn’t go on elsewhere, but the fact that it goes on elsewhere is hardly a good reason for defending against the fact that it goes or has gone on here… here in the Catholic Church; here for century after century; here where mountains of evidence shows church hierarchy did everything in its power to keep the matter under wraps, to deny, to move offending priests from parish to parish without punishment; here where payoffs replaced any real contrition … here where, if critics are anything like me, it is purely exhausting to reiterate and reiterate and reiterate the irrefutable evidence when yet another fabrication is floated on public waters.

    Francis has been warmly received for his down-to-earthiness, his hope that the church would return to its charitable and compassionate roots, and his desire to care for “the least among us.” But suggesting by implication that the church should now be let off the hook because of all of its ‘hard work’ is like an oncologist who announces proudly that some of the patient’s cancer has been removed.

    Even if the pope’s words are more political ploy than substantive truth (gotta do something to placate the curia and end the financial hemorrhaging), still, there is something utterly despicable in it.

    Still, I don’t suppose Joseph Goebbels felt any honest remorse either.

    adam fisher

  3. skiadvocat

    Speaking of “bobbing and weaving”, here’s a thought from Archbishop Chaput’s sermon at his healing Mass in Philadelphia on 3/22/14.

    “…..”the negligence of the church’s pastors”…..” Archbishop Chaput’s phrase in his sermon at the healing Mass…….

    The use of the word “pastors” is intentional and deliberate. If he were serious about healing and forgiveness, our Philadelphia spiritual leader would have said:

    “the negligence of the church’s BISHOPS”

    Michael Skiendzielewski
    Captain (retired)
    Philadelphia Police Dept.

  4. I’ve been victim of sexual abuse as a little girl, not from any religious person… But this situation makes me want to throw up… It’s insanely disgusting. Patrick, thank you so much for standing up for these boys and girls who now are women and men… SURVIVORS… But trust on this the time has arrived, Jehovah makes no mistake and soon the prophesy for this “prostitute” will be fullfilled. Her waters will be dry and no one will ever come to rescue her or defend her, the UN will take care of her, sonner or later.

    It is so good seeing you speaking with you knowledge and concern. Hope you family and you can find the true love and real Jehovah. Blessings

    Maria M Minier

    • hslsdrstrsd

      @Mary Louise: You forgot to blame that group in Europe…you know…Hitler and World War II…is it the Joos or Yuds? What about the Obama Administration? International bankers? Bozo the Clown? Your Bible-based bigotry is incredibly disgusting. Anyone who has EVER taken a class in human development and sexuality knows that homosexuality and child rape are NOT synonymous. I don’t know why overstuffed Eucharist-munchers have such a difficult time understanding this point as well as the crazy idea of “CONSENTING ADULTS”. Also, pedophilia in and of itself, the attraction to children, is not a crime. Many pedophiles do not act upon their urges. Pedophilia becomes a CRIME when you commit child rape and it’s even worse when an institution, an organized crime syndicate, covers it up. You are not only hateful and bigoted, but incredibly stupid. Maybe it’s the communion wine, swallowing the blood of Christ, I don’t know.

      Here is a book by top Mexican journalist Carmen Aristegui who meticulously documents the sexual torture of children by the HETEROSEXUALLY- active- pedophile Father Marcial Maciel. Throughout the book, Aristegui demonstrates that Maciel’s heinous crimes were the result of HIS PERSONAL decisions which were facilitated and enabled by an organized crime syndicate, the Roman Criminal Church, funneling money, MILLIONS, from wealthy Mexicans to John Paul II’s coffers. Maciel was JPII’s lucrative fundraiser. Aristegui condemns Maciel but she constantly shows how the people surrounding Maciel ENABLED and even encouraged his drug addiction as well as his molestation of poverty stricken children.

      The ONLY people defending these brutes are those who realize that a dearth of priests means that they won’t get their mouthful of Savior on Sundays. They put their own bizarre narcissistic need ahead of the bodies of REAL children. Yes, I am enraged at what the RCC has done in my country. Rape is about violence and power. I would rather see a priest desecrate the Eucharist than touch a single hair on the head of a child. Jesus can take the abuse. Children CANNOT.

      The book has not been translated into English but it is an EXCELLENT read in Spanish:


      • The Sexual abuse scandal is a about homosexuality or pederasty, not paedophilia as the media would have one believe. The victims were largely adolescent males, not pre-pubescents.

        Watch the above video about the Communist infiltration of the Church to destroy it from within.
        And I’m no way defending JPII. The last true pope was Pius XII.
        Also, I notice that Patrick Wall still refuses to post my comments. Is it that you don’t brook any opposition, Mr Wall or is it that your agenda isn’t as honest as you’d have us believe? You’ve allowed hslsdrstrsd space on your site to blaspheme and attack me. Are you going to allow me the courtesy of a resonse?

  5. mementomori888

    There is an important reflection about this issue, and that is, when you go deeper into the abuser mind (through the testimonies of the victims and disclosed therapy arguments from certain abusers), you come to understand that the defensive attitude of Church authorities unfortunately goes far beyond from just trying to save a reputation. It touches their fear of confronting the very structure of their dogma regarding SACRIFICE and OBEDIENCE.
    For example, here’s what a couple of priests told their victims during abuse:
    1) “Whenever you doubt the existence of God, simply think about the meaning of what I just did to you: it is when someone possesses you; and I have just possessed you like no one else will. This is how God possesses the soul”.
    2) “This is a sacrifice you must go through. It is just part of a lot of sacrifices you must go through in order to become a priest”.

    On may 1st, 2014 a Mexican film called “Perfect Obedience” (Obediencia Perfecta) was released. It depicts the profile of Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ; though the movie character is called “Ángel de la Cruz”, because it portrays a generalized profile and pattern of behavior of many other priests, many of whom have not been prosecuted yet.
    It is well documented that Maciel “captured” his victims through his personal charisma as a “man of Christ” and by sowing a desire of sainthood in his victims using the “perfect obedience path” written by Saint Ignatius of Loyola and followed through many spiritual retreats in many religious orders:

    “He who lives in obedience should surrender himself and be ruled by the Divine Providence through his Superior, just as if he was a dead corps, which lets himself be taken anywhere and treated in any way; or like the walking stick of an old man who would want to be helped by it, anywhere, anyhow. He simply and only serves.
    (…) Until you reach the third level of perfect obedience: you think and act exactly like the one you love. You no longer have a will of your own”.

    This is just a tiny sample of what we could find if the Vatican delivered all the files they have regarding priest abuses. Believe me, it goes far, far beyond protecting pedophile priests because of reputation… it’s because all of these case together are a monstrous evidence of the twisted dogma and mystics they have been carrying for centuries…

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