For immediate release: Friday January 2, 2013
We are glad the pope mentions prevention. It’s the most important part of the abuse and cover up crisis. But talk, of course, is cheap. He has immense power to prevent heinous child sex crimes. But he won’t use it.
Instead of talking about predators not becoming priests in the future, he should act against corrupt bishops who are in office right now. Sadly, Pope Francis continues the long-standing and widespread church practice of virtually ignoring every Catholic employee – from custodian to cardinal – who ignores, conceals or enables abuse.
Maybe someday Pope Francis can help stop sexually troubled seminarians from being ordained. But right now, he can certainly stop morally corrupt bishops from being employed. And by harshly disciplining those who conceal child sex crimes, he can prevent future child sex crimes. Only stern action – not more words – will make a real difference.
To stop sexually troubled seminarians from being ordained, the pontiff should punish Archbishop Peter Sartain and other prelates who have ordained such men, especially those who have gone on to sexually assault kids. (See case of Fr. Alejandro Flores)
The real problem is not really "poorly trained priests" but poorly behaving bishops who still endanger kids, move predators, stonewall police, and fight reforms. (Just last month, for instance, a Minnesota police chief took the unusual step of holding a news conference begging church employees to talk with officers because Archbishop John Nienstedt’s top staff refused to be questioned about clergy sex abuse and cover up cases.)
There always have been and will be child molesting priests, teachers, and coaches. The real issue is how their employers react when abuse reports are made. That's where Pope Francis should focus.