Again, Pope Francis calls for 'Zero Tolerance'

(For Immediate Release September 6, 2022) 

If the Pope is serious about ending clerical sex abuse, he would promptly purge his cardinals and bishops. Any abuser should undoubtedly be removed. Any enabler should be removed. He can begin with Michael Barber of Oakland, who has allowed two priests to escape under his supervision.

In our view, Pope Francis should order all clergy abuse files to be opened globally and that lists of the credibly accused are published. Sean O'Malley, his top US monitor, hasn't even ordered his own capuchin province to produce a list. So, who is keeping an eye on the watchdog?

The idea of the Catholic church being cleaned of such heinous history is one we would like to see come true. However, we have concerns. For starters, the priesthood attracts pedophiles, and there is no method to screen or diagnose a pedophile ahead of time. That means the church's best bet is to remain attentive. But it will be challenging to remain watchful if working bishops are offenders or have been socialized to support child abusers.

Second, minimal observable progress has been made with pope-driven initiatives such as the Vox Estis effort. That half-baked endeavor reveals yet another private, internal procedure controlled by conflicts of interest. Look no further than Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Canada.

A miracle on the trail to canonization would be cleaning up the church. Because hope and prayer without action is not a strategy, we continue to emphasize the need for secular authorities to close the gaps that allow the church's leadership to dodge long-overdue accountability.

We've long advocated for zero tolerance, complete openness, and accountability. Pope Francis is being praised for expressing things like "zero tolerance," yet he is still not implementing it. His words belie his actions, which show nothing but tolerance for abusers until he orders that all abuse complaints be reported to police authorities.

CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager([email protected], 267-261-0578), Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President ([email protected], 814-341-8386) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 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


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