08 Apr, 2010
Pope needs to make real change in handling of sexual abuse cases
There has been an evident strategy of preserving the “dignity” of the Catholic Church at all costs. It apparently never occurred to Church officials that defending children and cooperating with the prosecution of sexual predators would be a far more effective way of maintaining Church integrity than protecting pedophiles and stonewalling investigations of their heinous crimes.
Now the Vatican is trying to go on the offensive, claiming that all the hullabaloo is just a thinly veiled attack on the Church by foes with hidden agendas. Senior Cardinals, speaking on Vatican Radio, claim the criticism of Pope Benedict XVI’s handling of are part of an anti-Catholic “hate” campaign targeting the pope for his opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. A vast left-wing conspiracy, if you will. Then they have the arrogance to proclaim that journalists investigating the abuse and subsequent coverups should just quit trying to cause trouble.
The Church approaches child abuse as an “administrative” matter. It’s not merely a moral failing, it’s a criminal act. Pope Benedict XVI (as a sitting head of state) may be able to avoid being held personally liable in a court of law, although there is the suggestion that he could be prosecuted in the International Criminal Court. Still, the Pope, as leader of the Church, needs to “man up” and take responsibility instead of couching everything in vague, noncommittal terms.
His letter to the Catholics of Ireland doesn’t cut it. Exhorting everyone to pray about the matter and insinuating that the blame lies with the encroachment of the secular world is just not sufficient. In case this wasn’t clear, sexual abuse is WRONG and ILLEGAL.
What’s most appalling is that they expect their flock to simply accept the molestation and rape of their children. Trust in the Church hierarchy when they tell you, “We took care of it.” Don’t question authority, even when you know it’s wrong.
Why not clearly say, “While God can offer forgiveness to those who truly repent, that does not eliminate society’s right to demand secular justice. We will cooperate with investigations and prosecutions of priests who commit crimes against those in their care.”? It might go a long way toward regaining some level of trust and respect for the Church, from both members and the world.