Cardinal Slated to Plan a Summit on Abuse has been Accused of Ignoring Abuse Himself

A respected and credible Catholic news source reports that "one of the organizers appointed by Pope Francis to plan a February summit at the Vatican on sexual abuse has been accused of covering up abuse in his own archdiocese in India."

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai reportedly told a whistle blower that he “was too busy” to do an investigation into an alleged predator priest. The whistle blower also says the Cardinal delayed removing that cleric from ministry, and then refused to tell his flock why the priest was removed. The whistle blower was ostracized for her activism. This kind of response from any church official to an allegation of sexual abuse would be troubling, but is far, far worse when that church official is one of those handpicked to plan a summit on abuse prevention.

Unfortunately, many top Catholic officials have concealed or are concealing known or suspected child sex crimes. Some such prelates have been promoted by Pope Francis. And, like Cardinal Gracias, some such prelates are planning this summit, including Chicago Cardinal Blaise Cupich and Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

Under Cardinal O’Malley’s watch Boston’s archdiocesan abuse policy was revised, eliminating a provision that required the immediate removal of accused priests, and severely limiting survivors’ access to archdiocesan files about their cases. Similarly, in Spokane, then-Bishop Cupich failed to take action against at least two allegedly abusive priests who worked in diocese.

Given these failures, we think that Pope Francis should elevate other prelates instead, those who have taken on leading roles to prevent sexual abuse, not protect abusers. An example of a better choice would be Bishop Steven Biegler from the Diocese of Cheyenne, WY, who has been aggressive and consistent in his calls for investigations into bishops who have concealed sex crimes. The Pope should find more bishops like Bishop Biegler – and fewer like Cardinal Gracias – to serve at this summit.

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