Pope Francis quickly accepts the resignation of Brazilian Bishop; SNAP reacts
Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop Tomé Ferreira da Silva, who oversaw a diocese in Sao Paulo state, less than a week after a sexually explicit video, purported to be the bishop, hit social media outlets. Fifteen years shy of the normal retirement age for bishops, Bishop Ferreira da Silva has reportedly been under investigation by the Catholic Church since 2015. The bishop is said to have ignored reports of abuse and exchanged sexual messages with an adolescent, as well as taking a large amount of money from the Church and giving it to someone with whom he allegedly had a romantic relationship.
This development aptly illustrates what we have said repeatedly as an organization, that the Vatican is extremely reluctant to take action against its bishops, until they become an embarrassment. It seems incomprehensible to us that this prelate apparently enjoyed years of impunity without earlier intervention. Clearly, the Church is more concerned about the preservation of its image than addressing the systemic problems of abuse and misconduct by its clergy and hierarchy. Helping victims who have long held the liability for the abuse they suffered always seems to come in dead last.
The viral video seemed to be the breaking point for the Pope in this case. We demand complete transparency from Vatican officials. It is hard to comprehend that it took a Bishop getting caught in a compromising position on the worldwide web for the Catholic Church to finally act. We doubt that the biggest issue for Pope Francis is this indiscrete prelate. We wonder what else is being hidden, and how many more such videos it will take to get those other problem hierarchs removed?
(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)