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Francis to CDF: "Act decisively" against sexual abuse.

CNS photo/Paul HaringIn a meeting today withArchbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith, Pope Francis urged him to "act decisively" against sexual abuse, "continuing along the lines set by Benedict XVI," according to a Vatican news release. How?

First of all by promoting measures for the protection of minors, as well as in offering assistance to those who have suffered abuse, carrying out due proceedings against the guilty, and in the commitment of bishops' conferences to formulate and implement the necessary directives in this area that is so important for the Church's witness and credibility.

Presumably that would include verifying that the world's bishops conferences had turned in to the CDF guidelines for responding to abuse allegations, as they were instructed to do in May 2011.More from Catholic News Service here.

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And bishops criminally convicted of not reporting clerical perverts to the law???Like Robert W. Finn, still occupying his episcopal chair in the Kansas City - St Joseph diocese???Will the new pope allow Finn to continue in office???Just askin'.

Is the score "Francis - 0, Curia - 1"?Gotta' wonder.

Significant that the CDF is asked to do something about real abuse.

Much like the Australian government's just announced Commission on Sexual Abuse of Children, I'll believe that Francis is on his way to really addressing the hierarchy's complicity in the abuse and sexual exploitation of children when he asks an outside international organization like the United Nations to convene a Truth & Reconciliation Commission to document and investigate the scandal in every country and culture.P.S. Isn't it about time for Francis to CLEAN HOUSE in the curia starting with the Inquisition? Send every one of those cardinals, bishops, monsignors in the curia back to their home countries to begin a second career in pastoral ministry? Francis could then replace every cleric in the Roman curia with women and men from around the world, from every culture. It's time to really transform the Roman curia from a petty, insular all-boys club into the world's greatest human rights action agency.

I also think it would be good if all of our bishops and cardinals were involved in pastoral work. We have a priest shortage and pastoral ministry is where they're needed. Talented lay people could run all of the administrative functions at the Vatican, freeing up all of those bishops and priests to get back to the work they were called to do.

Let's see action, not just words. I still have hope. Muller is hardly an inspired CDF head.

My view is that the words are welcome, even if, understandably, we may be inclined to take a "show me" attitude.It sets up an interesting dynamic for Muller and the CDF. The Holy Father is now on public record as holding the CDF accountable. We now know, not only that the Holy See is stating it will act responsibly and diligently on the sex abuse problem, but Francis has now turned the spotlight onto the specific department in the Holy See that owns the problem. If there are any CDF functionaries who may be inclined to be less than zealous in chasing down abuse cases, we may hope that their big boss the pope won't provide cover for them.

I think the most decisive thing he could do to lessen sexual abuse by priests would be to change the priesthood - allow married men and women. I saw that the British Catholic MPs write to him, asking him to allow married priests recently -

Ambiguous language in the Vatican news release. Holy Father recommended [] that the Congregation continue the line [] of decisive action [] by promoting measures for [] due process against those who are guilty.Does that include Bp. Finn? We need something much more specific. Nothing to see there. The only news is that pope Francis has been discussing the sexual abuse scandal, which I suppose is a start.I note that he doesn't delegate care of the poor entirely to the council for justice and peace. He is showing his priorities by taking it into his own hands by his repeated mentions in his homilies and by his personal symbolic actions. Given his style so far, I think that that's what we need to watch for to see how high it is on his list of priorities. As soon as pope Francis has started talking about the poor, the tone of the rest of the church changed. Cdl Dolan visited a prison. Suddenly many bishops are re-discovering their voice as defenders of the poor. It's striking how change might happen simply by example.Let's try to apply the same approach to fight the sexual abuse scandal. If that's how pope Francis works, let him meet with sexual abuse survivors, let him express himself forcefully and repeatedly on sexual abuse and on the demands of justice, let him do something symbolic but powerful such as a special liturgy (as Cdl Schonborn did once), and let's then hear the voices of bishops and episcopal conferences coming to life to act against sexual abuse. But even then, at some point (and it could not be too soon) some action will be needed on the part of the Holy See itself.

How about meeting with representatives of organizations of sexual abuse survivors?

Is Pope Francis afraid to address the crimes of Bishops and Cardinals? They have been above the law too long. The system needs to be completely overhauled. Anything less is useless.

Well, if pope Francis is reluctant to use direct papal authority even for that, maybe there could be a way for episcopal conferences to practice fraternal correction and send to the Holy See their recommendations as to who would need an apostolic visit or a coadjutor bishop or a promotion to a non-existent diocese. There are probably bishops who are furious at their lax brother bishops and who would be emboldened to act and vote them out, if only they knew that the Vatican was behind them.

Off-topic: This morning I asked my catechism class what they knew about the new pope. They knew many things, and one of them said: he is the pope of the poor. Francis, Pope of the Poor. What a beautiful title!

So who would survivors' advocates recommend to be in charge of addressing clergy abuse? Wasn't there an Irish Archbishop who tried unsuccessfully to fire some bishops. Maybe someone like that?

That's Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, Irene. He asked bishops to examine their consciences about their responses after one of the investigations was published. He does not have the authority to fire bishops; only Rome does. Four offered their resignations; only two were accepted. And the bishops took great offense to Martin's simple request. B16 was too busy writing an anemic pastoral letter to the Irish church that used theological reflections on evil as red herrings, and essentially blamed the Irish bishops for anything amiss. Never mind that the Vatican was obstructing bishops in the most parsed language possible about reporting allegations to authorities. Not one mention of any even remote Roman responsibility. It is critical never to imply Vatican liability for anything; nothing is ever their fault. So, the spin by hierarchs meant that a text could be interpreted as yes, no, maybe, always and never - simultaneously. Vaticanese is a clever art.Martin was marginalized in Rome, but the dignity with which he handled that shameful treatment was extraordinary. So, yes, Martin, whom the Irish bishops dislike, but survivors and laity like very much. Or, get creative and follow Milan's Cdl Carlo Maria Martini's advice shortly before his death: "Iadvise the Pope and the bishops to look for twelve people outside the lines for administrativeposts [posti direzionali]people who are close to the poorest (survivors in this case)...."There's not a chance in heaven, hell or limbo, but no one, absolutely no one, knows more about that landscape than Dominican Tom Doyle, a JCD with five master's degrees. He has also defended priests in canon cases and speaks plainly. The CDF would sit up straight, fast, but the curial mindset would never countenance his commitment to justice, his knowledge or skill. Claire, Bergoglio refused to meet with survivors in Argentina. I hope that decision is promptly overturned. B16 was stiff in meetings with the two survivors I know who met him, said hardly a word. Francis has a personality much more suited to such encounters. Let hope be for now.The BS meters of survivors are finely calibrated. They look for action as the key to what someone's intent is.

Saw this today about the sex abuse policy in Scottish church - Scottish Catholic church's handling of abuse is a sham, says former insider

I'm starting to get discouraged about the cover-ups, which are, as I see them, are the symptom of the central problem in the Church, i.e., the lack of accountability of the hierarchs. Francis hasn't mentioned the cover-ups once yet. Tomorrow he takes possession of the cathedral of Rome, the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, where Cardinal Law is emeritus archpriest and still in residence . We'll see whether anything happens there. I fear the subject will be ignored.

Oops -- Sorry, I had that all wrong. It will be at the Arch-Basilica of St. John's Lateran, the Roman cathedral. Cardinal Law won't be there.

Just posted 5 hours ago on NBC News - a to-do list for Francis from SNAP's David Clohessy, Jesuit Tom Reese and Kathleen McChesney, first head of the USCCB Office of Child Protection. Subheads: heads should roll; name names on diocesan websites (McChesney); meet with victims (Reese); get new advisers (Tom Groome at BC); crunch the numbers - Vatican do a worldwide JJ study (McChesney); shake up bureaucracy - create new office separate from CDF as sort of professional bd of directors to help dioceses replicate successful anti-abuse programs and make sure world's bishops and religious orders are complying with Vatican guidelines. "Benedict ordered every diocese in the world to establish policies and procedures...two years later, many have not followed through."I left a comment on why O'Malley would be a poor recruit to help Francis in Rome. See the details of O'Malley's record at

Carolyn Disco 04/06/2013 - 8:42 pm:Tom Doyle might be on too many hit lists to do what you are suggesting. But Mary McAleese, former 2-term President of the Republic of Ireland who is on he way to getting (if she doesn't already have it) a JCD in Rome would be a no-nonsense worthy name-taker and butt-kicker in the Vatican. And I'm sure that she and Diarmuid Martin could act as a team to strike fear and trembling in the most self-satisfied prelate anywhere in this church.

To follow-up on Caroly Disco and Jim McCrea's meme:How about Tom Doyle and Mary McAleese heading up an international "Peace & Justice Commission" modeled on Archbishop Desmond Tutu's commission in South Africa which investigated the crimes and atrocities committed under the apartheid regime? Justice Ann Burke of Illinois would be another excellent member.A Peace & Justice commission could be organized under the aegis of the United Nations' Human Rights Tribunals to give it the necessary independence from Vatican interference. Any such commission would have to have complete independence from the Vatican curia, including the pope. It would have to have real subpoena power to compel the cooperation from every narcissistic prelate. If priests and bishops fess-up truthfully to their crimes and cover-ups, then they could be eligible to receive a pardon, forgiveness and reconciliation from the Catholic/Christian community - I would not guarantee them continuing in the priesthood. This whole process would actually be a very easy one because the Vatican already knows who these offending priests and bishops are - they have already been identified to Rome. Under Ratzinger, the Inquisition required that all of the most "notorious" cases [that is how the CDF categorized them! Don't be surprised?] be reported by bishops in diocese directly to the Inquisition in Rome [CDF]. If priests and bishops continue their obfuscation and denial, then turn them over to their local national authorities for adjudication. Well "Brother Sun and Sister Moon" Pope Francis, it's put up or shut up time!

Most are not aware the Pope Benedict, on his watch, fired almost 400 bishops! They don't really make it public, but it's there if you want to know about it, just research it. He (Pope Benedict), would first ask them, "For the good of the church to resign." The few who said no, he fired. Granted they weren't all for sexual abuse, but no one can say he was soft on the clean up of corrupt Bishops, including those involved in the sexual abuse.

Patricia ==Open your eyes. You're a cover-up denier. Benedict was extremely soft on cover-up bishops. Prime example: Bishop Finn is a convicted criminal and he remains in office.

Reader alert, regarding Patricias comment: just in case it didnt trigger your built-in bulls__t detector well, it should have. Still, I decided to do the research she suggested, and found 1) absolutely no confirmation nothing even close for what she said, and 2) good reason to think its wildly inaccurate.So, if Patricia is reading this: either present evidence to back up your claim, or retract it. You have the burden of proof.

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