"We showed no care for the little ones, we abandoned them,” Pope Francis says in a letter to the entire Catholic Church in which he condemned the clericalism, the arrogance, abuse of power and position of bishops and religious superiors in the church who allow and cover up and thus perpetuate sexual crimes against children.
Pope Francis takes a stand with the victims and vows to stamp out and hold accountable those who abused children and those bishops and religious superiors who hid the truth and ignored the victims. The Pope’s letter is for all who cares to read it, but between the lines, it seems to be aimed at those powerful people in the church who oppose him and his efforts to cleanse and reform sections of a corrupt hierarchy. The Pope is attending the World Meeting of Families in Dublin that opened this week. More than 300 people will speak at forums and symposia. The Pope will celebrates Mass with a huge congregation in the Phoenix Park.
Solidarity and community action is needed to stop child abuse and the cover up from ever happening again. He spoke in response to the revelations of the US Grand Jury for child sexual abuse over 70 years by three hundred priests who abused more than 1,000 children. The American Cardinal Weurl has withdrawn from the meeting due to these shocking revelations. Pope Francis admitted shame and apologized to the victims and survivors of clerical abuse and asked forgiveness and said action will be taken against those with credible allegations against them. He will meet some of them when he visits Ireland this week.
“It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable. Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others.“
He praised the survivors and those campaigners around the world protecting children and he invited them to work to help him to implement zero tolerance of child sexual abuse. He apologized for the delay in taking direct action to help victims and bring the abusers to justice “as well as implementing zero tolerance and ways of making all those who perpetrate or cover up these crimes accountable. We have delayed in applying these actions and sanctions that are so necessary,” he wrote.
What that action will be has yet to be seen but hopefully it will be action whereby “the mighty will be taken down from their thrones, and the rich sent away empty,” as he quoted the Scripture. We believe he said this in a veiled reference to the powerful cardinals and bishops, especially those in the USA who oppose him and call him a heretic. Hopefully all those who covered up crimes against children will resign.
Un Chile, Francis was deliberately misled by members of the hierarchy. He was lied to about the cover up of child abuse but he found it out and called all 35 bishops to Rome where they all submitted their letters of resignation. He accepted five.
These clerics are powerful because not only are some of them child abusers but they have a network of paedophile priests and bishops who thwart revelations and block legal action against the paedophiles. They have money power too. The Mighty that sit on thrones have likely financial investments in the Vatican bank and control Vatican institutions and control huge donations to the Vatican itself. Like corrupt politicians, they block investigations and reform.
In the letter, Francis condemned clericalism. “Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today. To say "no" to abuse is to say an emphatic "no" to all forms of clericalism.” Pope Francis is up against a network of clerics, corrupt bishops and priests and some cardinals and lay people that are against him and his many reforms. He has achieved much in five years and struggles against bureaucracy that is entrenched and blocks his reforms.
But he is making great progress despite the thousands of years of clericalism. Pope Benedict XVI resigned it is said when he was unable to successfully challenge the abuse and corrupt clerics that thwarted his efforts to confront the corruption in the church institution. Pope Francis quotes his prayer on Good Friday 2005 when Benedict (then a cardinal) said, "How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to ! How much pride, how much self-complacency!”
That’s why he is saying that he alone cannot fight the “Mighty” that sit on thrones and he calls on the support and solidarity of the whole church to help and sustain him in his reforms. He takes on himself the blame for these abusers although he has never been a part of their clerical network. He says that “such solidarity demands that we in turn condemn whatever endangers the integrity of any person.” What we need, he said, is “a solidarity that summons us to fight all forms of corruption, especially spiritual corruption.”
These corrupt prelates are his enemies in the Vatican curia and those in the worldwide paedophile support network of bishops, archbishops and even cardinals. In Australia where hundreds of priests have abused children over decades, Archbishop Wilson has been convicted of covering up crimes. Cardinal Penn is on trial in Melbourne for alleged child abuse and for covering up abuse by priests. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, 88, in the United States has stepped down because of credible allegations of his involvement in child abuse and cover up. He already got orders from Pope Francis to lead a life of prayer and penance and will face a canonical trial.
The Church is really The People of God. Our faith ought not be too troubled because our faith is not in the Church as a human institution but in Jesus of Nazareth and his message as revealed in the Gospels. These values are the heart of our Christian and Catholic faith. The institution has been in part corrupted and infiltrated by a mafia-like fraternity that is accused of participating in child abuse and cover up. Working in solidarity with Pope Francis, it can be overcome and children will be safe and protected and the abusers brought to justice.
Spero News columnist Fr. Shay Cullen is a founder of PREDA.org -- a nonprofit dedicated to the welfare of vulnerable children and women. He is the author of "Ricky and Julie: a story of human trafficking in the Philippines, based on true events."