Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Pope Francis on Anniversary of His Election: Catholic Church "Has Done So Much" on Child Abuse, and SNAP's Response

Today, Corriere della Sera (Milan) and La Nación (Buenos Aires) published an interview in which Pope Francis reflects on his first year as pope. Joshua McElwee reports on the interview for National Catholic Reporter. As he notes, Francis defends Paul VI's ban on artificial contraception, while stating that this ban needs to be applied pastorally; and he states that on the issue of sexual abuse of children, the Catholic church "has done so much. Perhaps most of all."

For Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), Barbara Dorris responds to the claims about sex abuse:

We are deeply disheartened by Pope Francis' remarks on the church's horrific, on-going sexual abuse scandal. His comments reflect an archaic, defensive mindset that will not make kids safer. 
For a year, we've been saying that while Pope Francis is making progress on church finances and governance, he's done nothing – literally nothing – that protects a single child, exposes a single predator or prevents a single cover up. Now we know why. 
It's because this pope - who talks of change in much of the church - is apparently satisfied with the status quo on clergy sex abuse and cover ups. (Months ago, he did, in fact, tell Vatican officials who deal with abuse cases to “keep doing what you're doing.”) 
His central claim – that no one has "done more" on abuse than the Catholic church – is disingenuous. 
No one has done more to clean up the Gulf of Mexico than British Petroleum. That's because BP caused the devastating damage itself. It's more than a little disingenuous. 
It would be far more accurate to say that no one has done more to deny, minimize and hide child sex crimes than the church.*

As Jerry Slevin has repeatedly and persuasively maintained, on the issue of child abuse, it appears Francis doesn't get it--and doesn't intend to get it. Jerry insists that lay Catholics need to press church officials--but, above all, secular ones--on this issue, and to do so as strongly as possible.

I agree. And it goes without saying that I agree wholeheartedly with Barbara Dorris's assessment of Francis's remarks about the church's response to child abuse as deeply disheartening and as reflecting "an archaic, defensive mindset that will not make kids safer."

The time for pressing and pressing hard seems to me very much at hand.

* I have taken the liberty of inserting into the text a link that Barbara Dorris places after the first paragraph above.

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