Pope Francis' condemnations get longer, yet not one child is safer
For immediate release, August 25, 2018
Statement by Tim Lennon, SNAP President, tlennon@SNAPnetwork.org, 415-312-5820
During Pope Francis' recent visit to Ireland he gave yet another scathing condemnation of the sexual abuse of children in the Church. However, not one child is safer because of his words.
Without action, these stirring condemnations are nothing more than empty gestures. Thousands of Irish boys and girls endured sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy. Their suffering was compounded, and more were put in harm's way, when Church officials covered up those crimes. Moreover, this deplorable situation is not confined to Ireland, but is replicated in every corner of the world where the Church has outposts.
Let's be blunt, the Catholic Church hid, and continues to hide, countless cases of child rape. We will not be placated by mere words. We want a concrete plan directed at eliminating this scourge. And that decisive action must be implemented across the globe.
Pope Francis is one of the last absolute monarchs. Unless he takes specific, concrete, measures to eliminate these crimes, everything he says about abuse and its cover up while in Ireland is meaningless. Over time each successive papal statement on abuse has gotten longer; over time each successive papal promise on abuse has sounded sterner. But over time real Vatican reform on abuse remains nonexistent.
Is one child on Earth safer because of the Pope's speech? No. This is the standard by which we must judge the Vatican on abuse and cover up.
These papal words may bring comfort to some of those deeply wounded victims who were sexually violated as children by clergy in Ireland. But many more survivors remain outraged at the lack of transparency and absence of action from the Vatican.
We remain unconvinced that the Church is capable of policing itself. The true depth and breadth of the violence and the cover up has only been revealed when governmental entities have undertaken investigations, as Ireland did. The Irish people and the communities of the world need to remain vigilant. We can not simply rely on the Church to reform itself.
In the meantime, every person who suffered, witnessed or suspected clergy sex crimes and/or their cover ups to should report to law enforcement. Victims may also want to seek out professional counseling, as well as reach out to peer networks like ours. You are not alone, and what happened was not your fault.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been working for thirty years to support victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings and has more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)