In less than a year Pope Francis has changed the image of the Church by preaching tolerance and wading into crowds to embrace the sick. Few doubt his sincerity. But there’s one area in which the Church hasn’t changed in image or substance: Its stance on child sex abuse by the clergy.
The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child meets this week in Geneva to, among other things, investigate child sex abuse by Catholic clergy. The Vatican is sending representatives and announced it will put together another panel to look into the issue.
But survivors of sex abuse don’t need another commission or for the Vatican to continue in the same plodding, evasive and in some cases criminal manner. For example, the Vatican recently declined to order the release of the names of bishops who transferred and hid pedophile priests over the years, saying it has no legal authority to do so.
Instead, victims need the fresh approach Pope Francis is bringing to other areas of the Church. They need the Vatican representatives to be open and forthright with the UN committee. They need the immediate release of the names of the clergy and employees who abused hundreds of thousands of children. They need the bishops identified who hid and protected pedophile priests, sometimes for decades, by transferring them from parish to parish.
Victims need clerics to lobby for, not against, local laws protecting children from sexual predators. They need the Church to make public every document or scrap of paper concerning a credible accusation of sexual abuse. They need the Church to be completely open and honest on the issue of clergy abuse. They need the Church to change. No matter how sincere, more expressions of regret in Geneva won’t stop pedophile priests today any more than it undoes the abuse of the past.
It’s great news that an independent group, the U.N. committee, is finally examining the issue of clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church. The only better news would be if Pope Francis extended his compassion toward the sick and disenfranchised to the victims. And the best way to do that is for the pope and the Church to hold accountable those who sexually abused children or participated in its cover-up, and to release all internal documents concerning the abuse.
I’m going to comment on an article that I did find here on the SNAP website today, but it is not one that was posted in the SNAP daily news or media events, or commented on in the blog area. It is an article about one survivor’s “one man play” being staged back east. In the Washington Post article, Mr. Clohessy is quoted. I will paraphrase what he said here and comment on his quote, as well.
In an article in the Washington Post I read recently, Mr. Clohessy is quoted as saying that he thinks the overwhelming majority of survivors self-heal and forgive their rapists; and that this (the face of those who have already “healed and forgiven”) is not the common “face of the victim” who is often seen as seeking justice, that the general public currently see in the media, today.
While I am truly grateful to Mr. Clohessy for all of the work he has done and is doing in SNAP over the course of the last 25years, on this particular subject I don’t agree with him. I think it very possible that the overwhelming majority of survivors have not yet come forward. I think it’s possible that he may be deluding himself in thinking that so many victim-survivors have been able to “self-heal and forgive”. I think many, so very many survivors, may in fact, be just barely hanging on to life and sanity.
I also think many survivors who have lived to middle age, or older, have either “given up” trying to solve any of the questions, given up trying to heal the wounds and bind the scars, and “forgiving the perpetrator” might not even be on their minds, at all. I think most of all victims are either too young or vulnerable to speak up, or; conversely that many now are too old, tired and beaten down, to even seriously seek, justice.
I think it might more be a matter for many of the older victim-survivors, that each one, each victim-survivor you could probably say with certainty, that the overwhelming majority OF VICTIM SURVIVORS of catholic clergy, laity and catholic employee pedophiles, all want:
to see AN END PUT TO THE RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BEING ENABLED,
they all want
to see AN END PUT TO THE RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE OCCURING, and they all want
to see AN END PUT TO THE RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE BEING COVERED UP, in the catholic church.
Having been a member of SNAP for one year now, and having viewed, read and followed everything that I could about this specific “scandal” in the catholic church, I have decided that my personal current course of action now, is to encourage and “call for” the leaders of SNAP in the United States and those attorneys willingly affliated with SNAP, to please write legal petitions for U.S. members to sign and for them to get signed, that call for a referendum to vote for the abolishment of all SOL laws applied to and regarding crimes committed by pedophiles against children and disabled adults; including but not limited to crimes committed by catholic pedophile priests, heirarchy and laity in the United States and its territories. Please let us do a “grass roots campaign”, via the internet if necessary, as our current president did to get elected; to achieve this very obviously important and necessary change to both our criminal and civil laws. The scourge must be STOPPED! Surely, it must be clear to all of us now, that they, (the pope and all the other leaders of the catholic church), will not do it for us. The scourge must be STOPPED! I believe that the United States of America is a uniquely qualified place to be able to achieve at least this portion of the battle against enabled pedophiles in the catholic church. WE CAN DO IT! WE CAN DO IT HERE!!!