For immediate release: Friday, Sept. 20, 2013
Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com)
Pope Francis continues to make comments and gestures that show compassion and a willingness to break old, unhealthy church patterns. And he makes millions of Catholics feel better.
But it's time for him to bring these traits to bear on the crisis that even he refuses to deal with – the church’s on-going and rampant child sex abuse and cover up crisis.
It's good to make adults happier. But it's better to make children safer. That should have been the pontiff's top priority on day one. It should become his top priority now. He’s done nothing to protect children, expose predators and deter cover ups. Not as a priest, bishop, archbishop or cardinal. Not as the pope.
Next month, in an unprecedented move, Pope Francis will bring eight cardinals to Rome to consult with him on what many believe is a crucial church issue. But that issue is governance, not child sex crimes and cover ups. To us, that’s heartbreaking. A more efficient Vatican bureaucracy would be good. A world of safer children would be better.
We challenge Catholics to ask themselves to name a single tangible step has Pope Francis taken, at any point in his decades-long clerical career, to make kids safer. Until he does, thousands of boys and girls across the globe will be sexually assaulted by priests, nuns, bishops, brothers and seminarians. Thousands of child molesting clerics will continue to walk free, along with thousands of their complicit colleagues.
It’s easy to say things that soothe atheists, gays, liberals and the poor. It’s hard to do things that root out those who commit and conceal child sex crimes. That’s what Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict refused to do. That’s what Pope Francis is also refusing to do.