More Tough Talk from the Vatican, but No Action

The Pope has responded to the growing clergy sex abuse crisis in the United States in the most expected way possible: with flowery words backed up by inaction.

The last thing that Pope Francis should be doing right now is giving speeches about clergy sex abuse. Such a speech should come only after the Pope has exhausted every avenue to remove abuse-concealing prelates from his administration, ensured that all bishops will turn abuse records over to their local police departments, and has personally visited with survivors and advocates to hammer out a real plan for prevention.

Instead, Pope Francis has taken no real action. We hope that in February the Pope will take the following steps:

  • Demand the resignations of all prelates who have minimized or concealed sex crimes, a number estimated by the Philadelphia Inquirer and Boston Globe to be as high as 130
  • Insist that all bishops turn their secret records, personnel files, and any other files potentially related to abuse over to law enforcement officials immediately
  • Instruct bishops to cease spending money – whether directly or through proxy groups –on lobbying efforts to prevent statutes of limitations reform, and instead spend those funds on efforts to promote SOL reform and the opening of civil windows
  • Ensure that when any church staffer is removed from their post, including bishops, that the reason for the removal is made public
  • Require that all dioceses work with established sexual abuse prevention organizations such as Darkness to Light in order to train all church staff on how to identify and prevent cases of sexual abuse
  • Reverse his advice from October and ensure that all future seminarians know to report abuse to law enforcement, not their bishops
  • Personally visit with survivors and learn from their experiences firsthand

Yes, Pope Francis’ words were powerful. But unless those words are backed up by action, they mean nothing. We hope that Pope Francis will take these steps immediately and show that his words are more than air.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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  • John Spencer
    commented 2018-12-23 16:45:44 -0600
    When Pope Francis said, “They are persons who will live in the service of the church, of the Christian community, of the people of God,” Francis says in the book. “Let’s never forget this perspective.”

    I am sorry, but he is absolutely wrong. Lots of people can ‘service’ the church but homosexual Priest should resign. They are a disgrace to Christianity to serve in that capacity. In reading Leviticus, it is pretty clear how the bible views homosexuality. Homosexual Priest should not be serving the Catholic church as Priest or any other level of leadership and they should not be positioned around Children. Yes there is a connection.

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