With Ad Limina Visits, Pope Francis Should Renew Call for “All-Out Battle” on Clergy Abuse
Starting this week, virtually all U.S. Catholic bishops will begin travelling to Rome to meet face-to-face with Pope Francis. During these “ad limina” visits, we hope that Church officials and the pontiff will focus almost solely on combatting cases of clergy abuse and improving how Catholic leaders respond to victims and protect children.
They can start by exhorting Pope Francis to expand his reporting directive to require that all allegations of abuse must be reported to secular law enforcement. U.S. Bishops wrote this directive into their Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People way back in 2002, but as recent reports have shown, those directives have had no teeth and bishops have been free to ignore them. Perhaps if the pope deigned to use his considerable power and require that these measures be taken seriously, Church officials would actually listen.
During these visits, the pope has the opportunity to live up to his own rhetoric and tell US bishops to stop evading justice and prolonging cover ups by exploiting legal loopholes such as the statute of limitations or bankruptcy protection. Pope Francis should reiterate his February charge for “an all-out battle” on abuse and urge that bishops and cardinals immediately report all allegations of abuse to police, that they immediately turn over all files and archives to state law enforcement officials for review, and that they stop splitting hairs about abusers who served within their dioceses and make public the names, photos, work histories, and whereabouts of all priests, nuns, deacons, brothers, bishops, seminarians, lay employees and volunteers who have hurt children or targeted adults.
To do anything less would simply be a waste of time.
CONTACT: Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (firstname.lastname@example.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)