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On sex abuse, asking the right questions

The announcement over the weekend of the new Vatican Commission for the Protection of Minors made me think that at least I was asking the right questions at the panel discussion with Cardinal O'Malley last Wednesday. Leadership roles for women? They make up half the membership of this commission (so far), a good start. Will O'Malley be advising Francis on appointments to the commission, or sex-abuse-related policies and priorities? Obviously (as he must have already known).

As for accountability: it's something the commission may (and should) decide to take up. I think Mark Silk has it right. After quoting the Vatican's official description of the commission's duties, he writes:

I would suggest to Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the big dog on the commission, that the key item on this list is “civil and canonical duties and responsibilities.” In the U.S.and many other places around the world, there’s  been plenty of attention to education and the discipline of abusers, to say nothing of symbolic acts of ecclesiastical apology. What’s needed are binding and enforceable legal procedures.

All the best practices in the world aren't going to be much help if there's no visible, consistent, appropriate policy for dealing with bishops and others who ignore them. Silk is encouraged by the presence on the commission of Baroness Sheila Hollins, who, he says, "is notable for calling on the Vatican to punish church officials (read: bishops) who fail to implement or enforce church rules on pedophile priests." And honestly, any lay person -- even a titled one -- should be a big help in reminding the pope and cardinals that attending to the view from outside the Vatican is what matters most if the church is ever going to recover from this blow to its credibility.

About the Author

Mollie Wilson O'Reilly is an editor at large and columnist at Commonweal.



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The composition of this committee is a good start. It might also be the model forward in terms of remodelling Church governance. Plainly, the governance of the Church as it is currently constituted is sick. I say that based on the analysis of a psychiatrist who was invited to the Vatican to discuss the abuse crisis. One question that he posed to his invited leaders was to examine how the very structure of the Church has contributed to this problem.

Healthy institutional introspection is vital for us personally and corporately. But for corporate reflection to have an value, you need participants from all vocations in the Church (and I use the term vocation in the sense of being called into the Church for a particular purpose). No longer is it at all credible to me that governance needs to be somehow divinely decreed to belong to clerics. The evidence does not at all support that. Neither St. Francis nor St. Benedict were clerics and they were technically lay people. Religious sisters have had enormous impact.

What is required today is a rethinking of the structure in light of the gospel to make it truly an inclusive, representative body.

Because, as it currently stands, the Vatican is sick and I say that without anger and with sadness. But if it does not take active steps to heal itself (grace building on nature), then faithful Catholics will have to consider sterner measures such as criminal indictments under international law.

But, don't get me wrong, these are very promising steps and I celebrate them.  


Mollie - here is a Q & A from Rev. Hans Zollner which leads to both questions and concerns:


- from a Western viewpoint, the biggest scandal has been that bishops are not held accountable.  Yet, Zollner states:

"From my point of view, it’s clear that this commission is not a legislative body and won’t take away authority from any existing Vatican department. It’s meant to assist the work of the Holy See and to foster discussions in various parts of the world."  (balance this with the current fact that this group reports directly to Francis; not a dicastery)

So, one can imagine that this consultative group proposes protocols, policies, etc. but can't legislate ......feels very much like more of the high profile *forgiveness* rituals but then no concrete acts to hold bishops accountable?

He also stated that this group will be looking forward (thus, no interest or investment in looking at historical cases, abuse, cover ups, etc.)   Sorry, without a truth and reconciliation push, justice will not happen.  It will be like putting a bandaid over an open and bleeding wound.  They need to learn from South Africa - those hearings created healing, openness, and transparency.

Finally, understand his point about different legal systems (but his statement about Kenya really stretches the bounds of reality).  Would suggest that they need to lay out the best practice protocols and policies - hold bishops accountable (don't need any national/country legal systems to do that - it is an internal church affair).  Right now, abuse in the 3rd world countries has barely reached the stage where the US, Canada, Australia, etc. were in 1990.



Canada has also had a Truth and Reconciliation Commission

on residential schools and representativew of the Catholic church and some religious orders (OMI, Jesuits, etc.) have testified and given statements before the commission. I highlight this apology from the Jesuits particularly since they were heavily involved historically with First Nation people (the martyr's shrine and all that - although don't get me started on that - different issue).

I work with First Nation people still in education and my wife is also First Nation so I see first hand the legacy. At the same time, it is important that we heal and move ahead. But it is a slow, painful process as you well know.

I just think we should give them space to breathe and do their work. There are these truth and reconcilation models out there and the Vatican might consider something of this sort. That is much preferable to more policies and procedures (these for sure can come). But there needs to be a process as this has inflicted a deep wound on the whole Catholic community.



I hope that the laity appointed to be part of a new governing structure of the Church will be satisfied with all the the power alotted to  them/us going forward. And that with all the work before them/us as part of an inclusive representative new governing structure for  the Church [which I too celebrate as an enlightened  needed reform] they/we can let go of the clerical crimes of the past.If John Paul forgave his would be assassin and Benedict forgave the butler, the laity needs to step up to the plate and show  mercy too.The laity will now be  in a position to make sure the crimes do not get whitewashed ,which validates the victims suffering. That is a victory for the victims and the previously powerless laity.Over time the church will be "cleansed" of such criminal clergy.We're more then a state, a corporation.The spector of professed Catholics'  incessant clamor for punishment for past moral  clergy  transgressions makes us look like hypocrites too.

Can we "let go of the clerical crimes of the past"?

Yes and no.  Obviously, since this commission was just appointed, it's hard to say what its final orientation, work product and influence going forward will be.  So it's positive, yes, but really only a beginning.

As for letting go -- the thing is, to forgive is truly not to forget.  How can anyone forget that so many who were called upon to take painful but morally necessary steps, simply whiffed, on the basis of the most banal if not downright evil justifications?  How do you look to "these people" as the authors of the future of the church? 

And yet, there they are, still in charge, still telling the rest of us what counts and doesn't count as sins.  It's not even a question of forgiveness, it's a question of moral authority.  You can forgive and love with the utmost sincerity and still decline to follow someone. 

My understanding is that with the laity as part of the structure of the church going forward, it will not be the clergy alone  telling us what are sins.It will be an inclusive body of laity and clergy.The future of the church will be the new uncorrupted as of yet  clergy, and the laity.For now let the sinful clergy be the cot we carry with us;to take from  the lenten homily I read above.

Well, let's not celebrate too much.  Naming the commission is only the first step in a thousand mile journey.  It is a welcome development that women have a place at the table.  I guess it helps in the Vatican circles to have a peerage?

I find it troubling that Padre Sean - as he likes to be called - is the only American on this commission so far.  While still being among the most enabling of hierarchs, O'Malley has exercised enough of his prodigious political skill to project an the image that he is somehow "better" on abuse issues than other hierarchs.  I'm not buying it.

Why isn't canon lawyer, Dominican priest and apostle to surivors Tom Doyle on this commission?  Tom was the author of the original report back in the 80's that warned US bishops that priests' child abuse was a ticking time bomb that had the potential to bring down the church.  As history has proven, he was right.  However, in response the hierarchs launched their conspiratorial cover-up campaign, and shunned Tom Doyle's prophetic voice.  Now all Catholics have inherited the whirlwind of scandal and corruption.

I hope these suggestions for the commission are constructive.  Here are two areas that this commission need address beyond the basic removal of predator priests, and corrupt and complicit bishops:

1.  The Catholic priesthood in general, and the hierarchy specifically, is dangerously alienated from and hopelessly irrelevant to the very people they are supposed to serve.  Papa Francesco has begun to address this issue:  "the leprosy of the church."

The only thing that will force the clerics - especially the hierarchs - to embrace the people [Francesco has said that they should "smell like the sheep"] is to democratized the priesthood by vesting in the PEOPLE the sole authority to call priests and bishops to ministry.  The people need to decide who is to be their priest and bishop - not some far away feudal autocrat.  Nothing less than the end of feudal clericalism is necessary for real safety for children and vulnerable persons.

2.  From my experience on the SF review board, I long ago concluded that all the sexual abuse and exploitation of children had been financially underwritten by all of us sheeple in the pews.  Ultimately, it has been our money - we people in the pews - that funded and supported not only the abuse but also the vast corrupt political cover-up by the hierarchs.

Pick your favorite example [Mahony in LA; Law in Boston, Meyer in NJ, George in Chicago, Finn in Kansas City, etc., etc. - and practically all priest predators], all had unaccountable access to mountains of money to rely on to insulate themselves from the civil and criminal consequences of the rape and sodomy of children.  

This concentration of political and economic power in the hierarchs and clergy must end for all time if we Catholics are ever to excise this malignant cancer on the Body of Christ.

The Catholic Church must devise a way to SEPARATE the MINISTRY from the MONEY.  If anything, the demonstrable history is that hierarchs and priests for the last forty years they cannot be trusted to fend-off the temptation of the nexus of absolute power and the unaccountable access to money presents to celibate feudal autocrats.

[Corporation sole must be declared a mortal sin and heretical anathema by the next ecumenical council!]

Once Catholics take charge of the money - how it is collected, how it is appropriated, how it is spent the hearts and minds of the hierarchs and priests will certainly follow - on a whole host of issues - especially the role of women - that presently perplex and afflict the church and that threaten our very existence as religious community.


George D - thanks.....agree with giving them time and space but still want to point out some concerns.

From Tom Doyle -

Reiterates some of my concerns.

Mr. Jenkins - agree.  US has Finn, et alii but to your point about money......the Australian Abuse Commission has been holding hearings in Sydney the past two weeks including Pell.

To your point today:


Time will tell whether or not the value and worth of the laity on this commission will be recognized, incorporated and given full and complete hearing.  Then the matter of whether or not what the laity says will have any actual bearing on structural changes and legislative actions.

How Paul VI treated the recommendations of the 1966 Papal Birth Control Commission (unwieldy with 72 members, mind you) by insisting on unanimity and allowing the dissent of a very few clerics (4 theologian priests had dissented, and 1 cardinal and 2 bishops had voted that contraception was intrinsically dishonest) to derail the overall recommendations may give rise to a great deal of frond-end skepticism now.  Francis has proven his willingness to be different and I hope in this case, he is open and forthcoming about the recommendations of the commission and his reason(s) for adopting/rejecting/modifying their suggestions.

If this case turns out to be a repeat of 1966 then untold and long-lived damage may be the results from which this church has a great deal of trouble of recovering, if it ever does.

But we will have to see how the process works and, more importantly, the degree of transparency to which the church is made privy.

Rose-ellen: It sounds to me like you're saying it would be spiritually beneficial for us to forgive the guilty bishops and priests, and that's as may be. But surely it would also be spiritually beneficial for the church -- which includes many people here --  to repent. If a Roman Catholic demands that his or her church remove an unworthy bishop, is that retribution or repentence?

I am happy to consider forgiving the guilty bishops and priests after they have been removed for any opportunity to repeat their guilty actions.

Until that happens, no.

Besides, it seems to me that those most affected by the abuse and coverup are the ones who are in the position to forgive.  The rest of us really don't have a dog in that fight, except a financial one.

Bill deHaas wrote: 

"He (Hans Zollner) also stated that this group will be looking forward (thus, no interest or investment in looking at historical cases, abuse, cover ups, etc." 

That is a key feature which says to me, complicit bishops will not be held accountable, period. Some day they will all be retired with full honors and any pope can move forward with justice denied: no inconvenient admissions of personal culpability or accountability beyond the most generalized language of public relations.

Example: John McCormack's references to sorrow for "what I did and did not do" --- and countless healing services where one never hears the truth about "criminal endangerment of children," "obstruction of justice," "perjury," "failure to report under the law," etc. Jason Berry's term, "culture of mendacity" is apt. Even Finn told two priests after his conviction that he did nothing wrong.

I just can't stand the duplicity, the dissembling, and the lies, which do not set one free. "The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts." (John Locke) 

Good luck to the Commission though. Its actions will speak louder than its words.

Sad biut realistic, Carolyn.  Talk about *cheap grace* or forgiveness with no intent to do justice which requires that you not only ask forgiveness but do restitution.
Funny, how clerics always seem to skip, avoid, or have mental reservation when it comes to justice and restitution.

As you well know, in the 80s and 90s, often bishops/chancellors/provincials would hear the confession of an alleged abusive cleric so that they could then use the sacramental privilege to avoid any real process of penance, forgiveness, and reconciliation (which should require some type of restitution with and for victims)...not sure how church lawyers play into this scriptural and sacramental process.

As you well know, in the 80s and 90s, often bishops/chancellors/provincials would hear the confession of an alleged abusive cleric so that they could then use the sacramental privilege to avoid any real process of penance, forgiveness, and reconciliation...

I did not know that. It certainly seems like a damning charge, at once obstructing justice in the secular sphere and abusing a sacrament in the sacred. But it also sounds like a futile move. Unless the allegation of abuse was also made during someone's confession, there would be no impediment to acting on it, and a moral and probably legal obligation to do so.

And to the extent that even a penitent abuser may abuse again, that tactic would force the confessor to choose between two serious evils, breaking the Seal of the Confessional, or countenancing and enabling the further abuse of children. Many less learned and exalted men than bishops, chancellors, and provincials would easily avoid that trap.

John - it follows from the seminary audit of 10 years ago and the policy that seminary formation directors can not be confessors or spiritual directors.  It compromises their ability to make objective formation decisions and recommendations.  It confuses the sacramental confession with objective and factual formation direction.  (and the reality that this was still going on in seminaries is the most shocking fact.....any good seminary policy had this set up dating back to the 1970s but, of course, it took some dioceses years to catch up).

By hearing the confession of an accused clerical abuser, the leader (bishop, chancellor, provincial) basically aligns himself with the accused and compromises any ability to get to the facts and truth and is, thus, biased against victims because anything they learn in confession can not be used in addressing the allegation, the situation, etc.  It is the ultimate in clericalism.

John - one other historical fact.....Maciel and the LC had a rule that stated that no one could accuse or speak about the failures of their superiors....thus, as Maciel's evils became known, the LC rules tied folks and leadership's hands - do they violate the LC charter rules or do they act justly?

When the soon to be  new governing body includes the laity, then the laity as partaking  of the policy making decisons of the church going forward  will have the power to decide who is made bishop and  when a bishop must step down for infractions and sins.Any infractions going forward will have the civil prosescutors going after them!Going forward is the key. To look back and demand that bishops be removed for past sins and crimes  is to me vindictive.It places too much value in earthly status and prestige.How dare a sinful bishop retain his prestigious status! The laity has won a great victory going forward, Let that be suffficient and show some humility and christian mercy . What does it matter from a christian perspective if they remain in office for some earthly time once the  crimes and sins have been exposed, and the needed  changes for the future have been made?The desire to shame, to punish is understandable but with new power handed to the laity going forward, why not discard the shaming and punishment aspect of justice as a sign of our christian mercy?You can't demand repentence from another person.It is retrribtion to demand they be removed.Amnesty going forward would be appropriate for people who profess to be Christians.To be so hard hearted this one time, would expose us/the laity  as a bunch of typical vindictive materialistic  "christian" hypocrites.

rose-ellen, I don't read what is happening to be a "new governing body" in any sense that you seem to.  This is a commission that will serve a very particular purpose with no "governing" authority at all.  Any recommendation it makes could be refused.  As for never removing the bishops -- the Dallas meeting occurred more than a decade ago.  Why is it always a new day when it comes to getting one's house in order on this issue?  

At a certain point this "getting one's house in order" by looking backward  ceases to be a productive endeavor and just looks, to me, like a never ending attempt  to get blood out of a rock.It seems to me like it's already in the works[of the Holy Spirit?] to have the laity included in the governing of the chruch going forward. We'll see if recommendations are refused.I'm hopeful they won't be.

Agitate for the commission to morph into  the  permanent  structural inclusion of the laity in the governing of the church.THAT is a  worthy cause.There is no reason after the evil  has been exposed and acknowledged for twenty years now to go for superfluous punishment for the past culture of coverup. What matters now is its eradication as a culture.THAT's where the laity should put its energy .  

rosellen ==

The primary reason  the offending bishops must be removed is because they have proved themselves to be incompetent as bishops.  Their own guilt or innocence is irrelevant.  Yes, it is possible that some thought they were doing the right thing.  But they have shown that they cannot make good judgments even when the matter is as crystal clear as a priest molesting a child.  Such judgements show the worst sort of incompetence. And for such bishops to proclaim sorrow for their bad judgments in no way turns them into competent bishops.  

Lack of guilt does not imply presence of competence.  Their horrendous judgments require that they be removed.  As to the guilty ones, neither are they turned competent by apologizing.  And this doesn't imply that the guilty ones should not be forgiven.  It does imply that they should be removed so they can do no more damage.

Would you simply forgive a doctor whose patients regularly die because he prescribes the wrong  medicine, but he's sorry about it?  Would you have him treat your children?  Of course you wouldn't.  You'd agree to get him out of the profession as quickly as possible.


And also, rosellen, if Pope Francis doesn't do something about the incompetent bishops, he will also  prove himself to be incompetent in protecting the children.  He's a lovely man,  but he has shown very bad jugment so far.  He talks big about justice, but doesn't get specific about particulars involving bishops.   If he doesn't open his eyes completely and see the incompetent bishops for what they are and then remove them, he too will face the Lord Jesus who said that scandalizers of children need to be thrown into the sea with stones secured around their necks. (That's not me being dramatic, rosellen, that's Jesus.  Would you also argue with Him?)


Bill deHaas: Re: use of confession

One VOTF member who met with a priest and referred to abuse (meaning verbally abusive conduct of a spouse) found the conversation immediately put under confessional seal before an explanation was even possible. The hair-trigger response was instructive.

I can never forget about  a 14-15 year old girl abused repeatedly by a priest whom she eventually reported to the school. The superior of the priest asked to speak with her in confession to get a full report. At the end, the priest superior gave her penance (which confused her), and forbade her to tell anyone under the seal of confession. Hence, she felt she couid not tell her parents, the police, a counselor, no one. It took over 45 years for her to report the abuse again..

The priest left the religious order several years later and was incardinated as a diocesan priest, subsequently becoming the chaplain at another girls school. After my friend came forward, she discovered others of her classmates had been abused, and one eventually committed suicide.

I pray these are stories of the past, but when I hear about the developing world and the attitudes of hierarchs in other developed countries, I wonder. Looking forward to a workship in two weeks by Tom Doyle about how to bring healing. What a loss that he will never be appointed to a Vatican commission. 

The primary reason  the offending bishops must be removed is because they have proved themselves to be incompetent as bishops.  Their own guilt or innocence is irrelevant.

I agree. 

A millstone .Because harming children is as bad as it gets. That's is why exposing the harm, and prosecuting as many offenders that could legally be prosecuted  rightly took place. And that is why reforms have been enacted and the pope is looking to do more with this comission.A millstone, Jesus said. Not a ceaseless never ending demand for more and more millstones around more and more necks to satisfy  peoples demands. The scandal will be dealth with comprehensively ,it looks like.

Is anyone surprised that the Vatican managed to find a leadership role for women when it comes to appointing people to handle the crimes, the shame and the disgrace of the Catholic Church?  I'm glad women are on the Committee.  But I can't go so far as to say that it in any way alters women's almost complete exclusion from decision-making in their religion.  It's basically another clean-up job which is all Catholic women are ever allowed to do.  Still, I'm glad they're doing it.

It is in no way a governing body.  It can only make recommendations.  It has no enforcement powers and no policy-making ability.  

I would not dismiss the appointment of women to this commission as "another clean-up job." This is not about dusting the rectory and ironing altar cloths. Women may very well have insights and ideas about protecting minors that somehow escape the attention of men. And since women have been systematically excluded from the clerical club, they should not be tempted to trim their judgments in order to save the reputations and coddle the sensibilities of the very people who have made this commission necessary.

I just hope that when the commission finishes its work, its recommendations will be published. Open discussion will drive policy-making.

I have been directly involved in the clergy abuse nightmare for 30 years, probably longer than most.  I am skeptical about the commission for a number of reasons but the main ones are:  1)  the Vatican is still a monarchy and the bishops and cardinals are the aristocracy.  If no pope has punished some of the outrageous things they have done thus far I doubt its going to happen now, 2) There is obvious prejudice against the Americans and the Canadians on the John Allen's interview with Zollner.  I suspect they will try to avoid involving the US activists and academics at all costs because we will cut to the chase fast.  The Vatican is safe with O'Malley.  He's a company man and knows no more about the real issues at stake than the cathedral janitor, who possibly might know more.3)  The most egregious deficiency in the Vatican's response as well as the response of every diocese and religious order (with one exception I know of...the Detroit Capuchin Franciscans) is the glaring absence of an authentic, compassionate response to victims.  The institutional Church has never showed any appreciable concern for the vicious spiritual damage done to victims by their sexual abusers but by their bishops as well....why...probably because they don't know how to.

Its easy to cook up policies and programs for the future and its easy to tell the world how they will put victims first...but what does that mean?  It means absolutely nothing until the Vatican fires some of the bishops who have and contiue to persecute victims, e.g., Pell, Mahony, Finn et al. as well as some if not all of those whose enabling actions have ruined the lives of countless men and women.

Fr, Doyle --

I'm sure the rest of the people here join me in thanking you for your courageous actions in defense of and for healing of the victims.  What a difference your life has made!

Could you tell us what you would tell the Pope if you had his ear?  What is it that he doesn't seem to understand?  And how might he be made to understand?  (Without his backing and leadership that Commission isn't going to get anywhere.)  Who or what might force him to see the facts? 

Tom Doyle - to your point, from the just released 2013 USCCB Charter for the Safety & Protection of Children and Young People  Program audit:

- $29 million spent on attorneys' fees

- $61 million on settlements (rarely initiated by the church or bishops)

- $6 million for victim counseling fees  (so, 5X more spent on legal fees)

- $10.5 milliion on supporting clerical abusers  (almost 2X more what is spent on victims)

And, of course, these are self-reports so one could justificably question the data.


And what impact does the Australian Royal Commission results and Pell:

Compare and contrast Pell's arrogance with how Bill Morris handled cases and settlements in Toowoomba.

Wonder if part of the Bill Morris affair was linked to his handling of cases separate from the Australian Towards Healing document and Pell's court fights.


Finally! (Maybe --  I just read this at another blog) about Francis's apparent intentions to support the victims.  The person posting it (I don't know her) says that Francis is insisting -- contrary to the wishes of the Italian bishops association -- that they must report offending clergy to the police.  I can't read the Italian, but I assume her reading is correct.

It remains to be seen whether he'll take action against offending bishops.

Ann, Google translation follows. Please, some of the many commenters fluent in Italian, give us the sense of the article.

Tripping of the CEI to the Pope on pedophilia . While Francis appoint a victim of abuse in the newly formed Commission for the Protection of Children, the Italian bishops highlight the lack of legal obligation for bishops to report to the court civil cases of child abuse .


In the new text of the "Guidelines for cases of sexual abuse of minors by clerics " , approved by the Permanent Episcopal Council last January and made public today, after the resounding rejection of the previous version by the Congregation of the Doctrine of faith, the CEI simply rewrite the period in question in this way:


"in the Italian bishop, not the qualified public officer or person in charge of a public service, does not have a legal obligation - except the moral duty to contribute to the common good - to report to the court state that has received the news about the unlawful acts covered by these Guidelines . "


The impact on the moral duty only addition from the previous version dated 2012, it sounds like a joke sentence addressed to Pope Francis , along with the " G8 " of cardinals who advise the government of the universal Church, has put the fight against pedophilia and money laundering at the first point of the reforms that has already started in the first year of his pontificate. A fight , that pedophilia, as pointed out several times even from Better World , already undertaken with determination by Benedict XVI.


But the CEI license plate Bagnasco obviously the teaching and actions of Pope Francis does not count for anything . And it is precisely on the fight against pedophilia that is consumed the final battle between Bagnasco and Bergoglio that, as announced by , open the General Assembly of the CEI next May in the Vatican.


Eloquent sign that the Pope has now taken over the helm of an institution, the Italian Bishops' Conference , who not only has been able to tune in to the " revolution Better World ", but it is placed in clear disagreement with the Pope in Latin America. The legal obligation of the complaint to the civil courts in cases of child abuse , the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had been clear , despite the CEI did not pretend to understand the reasons for the rejection of the previous guidelines.


The former Holy Office , in fact , stated that " the sexual abuse of minors is not just a canonical delict but also a crime prosecuted by civil authority . Although relations with civil authorities differ in different countries , but it is important to cooperate with them within their respective competencies .


In particular, should always be followed to the requirements of civil law regarding the reporting of such crimes to the authorities without jeopardizing the sacramental internal forum . Of course , this cooperation is not only about cases of abuse committed by clerics , but also covers those cases of abuse involving religious personnel who work in secular or ecclesiastical . " To say the least eloquent words to which the CEI has responded in a totally ironic . And now ask for the resignation to Pope Francesco Bagnasco ?

Carolyn --

Thanks for the translation.  (I couldn't get Google translation to work for me!)  I don't understand it all, but it does seem to indicate that Bergoglio is making his own position clear and that he is on the side of the victims.  I too would like to know how the Italian speakers here read the article.

I checked out the newspaper (il tatti quotidiano)  at Wikipedia, and apparently it's an extraordinary one.  It got off to a great start around 2009 when most papers were contemplating their own bankruptcy.   It's legal structure is particularly interesting in that 30% of the owners are columnists, and the paper cannot take positions without the writers' consent.  Sounds like it will emphasize accuracy in reporting.  I wonder if this isn't the future of newspapers -- loose sort of basically NGOs with the writers having a great deal of editorial power.  But the newspaper of the future needs another thread. 


Beyond the symbolic acts of repentance, I would like to see some soul-searching to be better aware of the concrete ways in which bystanders enabled sex abuse without meaning to. Pope Benedict, in his letter to the Catholics of Ireland, a few years ago, wrote:

14. I now wish to propose to you some concrete initiatives to address the situation.

[...] I ask you to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland. [...] I ask parishes, seminaries, religious houses and monasteries to organize periods of Eucharistic adoration, so that all have an opportunity to take part. Through intense prayer before the real presence of the Lord, you can make reparation for the sins of abuse that have done so much harm...

It is said that in driving accidents the responsibility is almost always partly shared, and that in divorces the fault never lies entirely with a single spouse. I think that in cases of sex abuse by clergy, one can study the role of the environment - the teachers of the seminarian, future priest and abuser; his co-workers; the parishioners involved in ministry that put them in regular contact with him; his friends and family; the parents of the victims; and, more remotely, those who accepted a mode of operation that opened possibilities for sex abuse. I would like the people who are horrified by the cases of sex abuse to reflect on their share of responsability in creating an environment that made it possible.

I know that it is not popular. There is the risk that this be taken as an excuse to make the primary culprits less accountable. It is also painful to consider. But I am ill at ease with people who express indignation, yet the thought does not occur to them that they might themselves have the least bit of responsibility. I would like it if raising awareness of that dimension were part of "truth and reconciliation".


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