Rome--“Pope okays punishing kids but he won’t punish bishops”
For immediate release: Thursday, Feb. 5
Statement by Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach CA, western regional director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (949 322 7434, [email protected])
Today, Pope Francis said it’s OK for parents to punish their kids, even physically. But the Holy Father won’t punish bishops who transfer and shield child molesting clerics.
The pope is asking church officials to stop hiding clergy sexual violence. What impact will his words have? None. Because no one in the church who DOES hide sexual violence is ever punished.
Consider a similar – and much more frequent – request from the pope to his bishops. He’s asked them time and time again to be less ostentatious.
And he’s “walked the walk” on this one. He has ridden buses, carried his own suitcase, and downsized his living quarters.
But precious few bishops have responded to his plea. Only a tiny handful of the world’s 4,000 bishops have shunned extravagant mansions or taken similar steps. (Cardinal Timothy Dolan, head of the largest archdiocese in the US, has stopped wearing cufflinks in public.)
So when it comes to abuse and cover up, since he refuses to take actions himself that would show sincerity, inspire confidence or make change, his latest message will have no impact.
One journalist called the Pope’s letter “strongly worded.” Another journalist wrote “It does seem to take a more direct tone than efforts from the Vatican in the past.” But again, more words or stronger words or better words are, in the end, just words. And words matter when actions are not possible. But Francis is in the best possible position to take decisive action – like firing corrupt bishops – yet refuses to do so.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)