For immediate release: Friday, Aug. 30
Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314 862 7688 home, 314 503 0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
Pope Francis has made one new appointment and reportedly will soon make another. We’re disappointed with both.
The pontiff has promoted a Legion of Christ priest, Fr. Fernando Vergez Alzaga, to secretary-general of the office governing Vatican City.
The Legion is perhaps the most secretive and scandal-ridden religious order in the church. While we don’t know much about Fr. Vergez, his long tenure in the Legion is troublesome.
The pontiff is expected to soon name Archbishop Piero Parolin as his secretary of state.
Noted Vatican observer John Allen calls Parolin “the consummate insider.” To some, that might seem like a compliment. To us, it’s a distressing sign.
An outsider, not an insider, is what’s needed. If concealing child sex crimes in the church will ever stop, it will only happen when complicit church officials are replaced by independent-minded men who have shown, through their actions, real courage in challenging a corrupt clerical culture. We see no evidence that Parolin is such a person.
Allen reports that by selecting an Italian, “Francis does not intend to completely upend the Vatican's traditional culture.” That’s a serious understatement. Francis has, in our view, done precious little to “upend” the most damaging aspect of Vatican culture – the on-going recklessness, callousness and secrecy surrounding those who commit and conceal heinous crimes against kids.
We’re grateful that Parolin is apparently not considered close to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone but he did apparently work under Cardinal Angelo Sodano, a very corrupt man.
Parolin worked in Venezuela, Mexico and Nigeria, nations where clergy sex crimes and cover ups are rarely disclosed or reported. We might feel a tad less pessimistic had he worked in nations where more of the crisis is or was being dealt with in a more open manner.
Pope Francis can ride buses and carry luggage and discuss poverty every single day. But that won’t make kids safer. Tinkering at the edges of unhealthy, entrenched Vatican complicity isn’t enough. Almost six months into his papacy, Francis has yet to take a single, effective step to protect innocent youngsters and to deter future cover ups.