AP Investigation Exposes Vatican’s Refusal to Punish Known Abusers

An AP report into a notorious sex abuser and the religious order he founded to further his abuse has exposed the Vatican for taking zero action in the past decade to punish abusers and those who covered for them. Despite knowledge about these crimes and public pledges for zero tolerance, church officials in Rome have again chosen to do nothing at the expense of survivors and the vulnerable.

The inaction from church officials in Rome regarding the Legion of Christ and the serial abuse committed by priests within that order is especially stark given that the Vatican itself assumed control over the disgraced order ten years ago. To have direct control over not only all of the priests and seminarians of this order but also access to all of their files and records and then fail to do anything to punish those who abused children or covered up crimes is, to us, a tacit admission that church officials in Rome care more about burying these cases than atoning for them.

Last year Pope Francis held a “major” abuse summit, one where he spoke publicly about the need for the institutional church to confront abuse head on and take immediate steps to address these crimes, calling for an “all-out battle” on abuse. But in the year since, we have seen that same Pope refuse to punish the criminally-convicted Australian Cardinal George Pell, drag his feet in releasing a report into now-defrocked American Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and decline the resignation of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin who was convicted of covering-up abuse in France. Now with this latest report out of the AP, it is clear that Pope Francis’ words and call for action have fallen short worldwide.

The more that reports like this are released and the more that church officials in Rome display their inability to punish those who have allowed abuse to occur, the clearer the need for secular intervention becomes. We hope that police and prosecutors around the world are paying attention to these reports and will take up the issue of investigating cases of clergy abuse and punishing those who would hurt the vulnerable or cover-up for those who have. It is clear that no such punishment can be expected from the Vatican.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.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)


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