In NWI, reaction mixed on Vatican sex abuse summit

As Pope Francis called bishops worldwide to Rome last weekend for the Vatican’s first summit on clerical sex abuse, local reactions varied on what it accomplished.

Francis closed out his extraordinary summit on preventing clergy sex abuse by vowing to confront abusers with “the wrath of God” felt by the faithful, end the cover-ups by their superiors and prioritize the victims of this “brazen, aggressive and destructive evil.”

But his failure to offer a concrete action plan to hold bishops accountable when they failed to protect their flocks from predators disappointed survivors, who had expected more from the first-ever global Catholic summit of its kind.

Clear action is needed to ensure transparency and accountability, said Larry Antonsen, 72, a leader in the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests’ Chicago chapter, who said an Augustinian order priest abused him at 15.

“They had a chance in Rome to do something monumental to get their credibility back,” he said. “They did nothing. They did nothing to help themselves.”

Experts: Next few months will tell

Francis delivered his remarks at the end of Mass before 190 Catholic bishops and religious superiors who were summoned to Rome after more abuse scandals sparked a credibility crisis in the Catholic hierarchy and in Francis’ own leadership.

The statement was more about motivating bishops in their own dioceses, said Professor Thomas Albert Howard, the Dusenberg Chair of Christian Ethics at Valparaiso University.

“If nothing happens in several months, it will have been a flop,” he said. “It’s sort of going to play out now.”

The biggest impact is what happens at the local level, said the Rev. Kevin Scalf, chairman of the theolo...

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  • Richard Kensinger, MSW
    commented 2019-03-06 09:59:36 -0600
    I completely agree w/ your observations about the Pope’s response to this very persisting and prevalent issue lasting over decades and continuing presently. The Church as an institution needs near-complete dismantling and reconstruction. I remain focused on our local diocese, holding Bishop Mark Bartchack completely accountable. My aim is to pick off one PA diocese at a time! Those on the hierarchy will continue to focus on the brand and not on its multi-complicit criminal behavior.

    Thanks so much for your input,
    Rich, MSW
  • Alan Dieringer
    commented 2019-03-05 11:24:26 -0600
    Pope Francis needs to be investigated for his role in making McCarrick a roving ambassador for the Church. Francis also needs to be investigated for his involvement in sexual abuse cases in Argentina (see below).

    The Monitor | Abuse Case Is Opportunity for Pope | September 25, 2013

    - An Argentine court finally sends to prison a priest convicted of child sex abuse in 2009 and defended by the Pope

    - This is an opportunity for Pope Francis to be transparent and pastoral

    - See our new summary, with translated articles and court documents, of then-Cardinal Bergoglio’s involvement in this controversial case

    Dear Friend,

    A pedophile priest in Argentina who has stayed free since his criminal conviction four years ago in part because of covert lobbying of judges by the Argentine bishops’ conference, headed by then-Cardinal Bergoglio, finally has started serving his 15-year sentence. This week, an Argentine criminal court ordered Father Julio César Grassi immediately to go to prison for molesting a 13-year-old boy in the late 1990s.

    According to news reports, Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, led a private campaign to exonerate Grassi and discredit his victims after Grassi was convicted in June 2009. See our analysis of the Grassi case and dossier of articles and documents, which we made public this week.
    Bergoglio and GrassiNow, as leader of the Catholic church, Pope Francis has an opportunity to order a full account of child sexual abuse by clerics in Argentina, and the cover-up by Argentine bishops. Six months into his papacy, the Pope has addressed financial corruption but not the corrupt shielding of sex offenders by bishops. He has expressed solidarity with nearly every vulnerable population except for those who were sexually abused within the church.

    We are especially troubled that the Pope lobbied for Grassi so recently – in 2009 and 2010, years after the worldwide cover-up scandal broke and bishops in the US and Europe began implementing reforms, and soon after Bergoglio was nearly elected Pope in 2005…

    Sincerely,

    Anne and Terry

    Anne Barrett Doyle, Co-Director, BishopAccountability.org
    781-439-5208 US cell
    anne@bishop-accountability.org

    Terence McKiernan, President, BishopAccountability.org
    508-479-9304 US cell
    terry@bishop-accountability.org
  • Richard Kensinger, MSW
    commented 2019-03-01 10:32:29 -0600
    I have divorced the Church, and continue to provide at no cost, clinical consultations to survivors in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, PA.Bishop Mark Bartchack has initiated massive improvements. This Diocese and PA AG have identified 46 of 50 predators as being clergy. Since 1999 the AJD has spent over $21 M from a victims compensation fund to buy silence. The cover-up is massive and includes both some members of the legal and law enforcement community. The AJD is now under federal investigation for consistent and persistent criminal behaviors.
    Rich, MSW

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