Pope Francis stunned the world when he promised to hold the bishops responsible for the horrid sexual abuse of minors accountable for their actions. He also begged the victims and their families for forgiveness. His comments came during his first meeting with victims of clergy sexual abuse.
At his Vatican hotel, Pope Francis celebrated Mass with six survivors. One thing he didn’t clear up was whether or not the accountability would include firing bishops and other prelates who shuffled pedophile priests from parish to parish in an attempt to prevent the Catholic Church from being faced with the shame of sexual abuse.
For many years, victim’s advocacy groups from all over the globe have demanded that the Vatican severely punish any of the complicit church hierarchy. One of the people from the advocacy groups, Marie Kane, 43, alleges that she had begged Pope Francis to remove Irish cardinal, Sean Brady from his post due to his handling of abuse allegations.
Speaking to The Irish Times, Kane said she told Pope Francis a “cover-up is still happening and you have the power to make these changed.” According to Kane, the pope’s response was, “it was difficult to make these changes.” Francis has himself faced criticism from survivor advocates for how he handled abuse cases when he was the archbishop of Buenos Aires.
Advocacy group, BishopAccountability.org director, Anne Barrett Doyle stated that Francis was specifically criticized for failing to meet with victims and denying that he had been the one to handle the case of an abusive priest. Many victims’ groups have described the Mass with the survivors held by Pope Francis as nothing more than a “PR event.”
During his homily at the mass, Pope Francis pledged “not to tolerate harm done to a minor by any individual, whether a cleric or not. All bishops must carry out their pastoral ministry with utmost care in order to help foster the protection of minors and they will be held accountable.”
When Boston Archbishop Bernard Law was given a “prestigious post at a Rome basilica” instead of being demoted while he was facing allegations that he was responsible for cover-ups of abusive priests, many victims in the United States were outraged.
The pope also stated, “I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of Church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse made by family members, as well as by abuse victims themselves. This led to even greater suffering on the part of those who were abused and it endangered other minors who were at risk.”
“Before God and his people, I express my sorrow for the sins and grave crimes of clerical sexual abuse committed against you. And I humbly ask forgiveness.”
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