Sunday, April 18, 2010

Survivors to Pope Benedict: Challenge Moral Relativism in Abuse Cover-up

The National Survivor Advocates Coalition today, responding to media reports that Pope Benedict has expressed sorrow for the Catholic church's treatment of those sexually abused by clerics when they were minors:

An institution with the depth of 2,000 years of history seeking to be the moral leader on the earth has to squarely face that the cover up of crimes is also a severe and festering wound in the Church.
Tears, yes, words, yes but solid and convincing action that is uniquely within the Pope’s purview is what is needed. Remove the bishops and Vatican hierarchy that covered up. Otherwise what we have is creeping relativism, the very thing Pope Benedict preached against on the eve of his election to the papacy five years ago.
The Pope’s tears in his eyes at Malta should surely lead him to addressing the victims in his own country. For the German victims there has been absolute silence from him.

As this statement notes, the present pope has made combating moral relativism a leitmotiv of his papacy.  And so survivors are echoing the pope's own most cherished sentiments when they call for an end to moral relativism in the church's thinking--for an end to the moral relativism that finds it possible to cover up crimes of sexual abuse of children by Catholic clerics . . . .  

Tears, yes, words, yes but solid and convincing action: because it's our acts that count in the end.  And that speak far louder than our words . . . .   

As I have noted before and will keep repeating here, it's extremely important that the voices of survivors of abuse be heard first and foremost, if we're to make headway towards true (and much-needed) reform in the church.  Not the voices of the clerical boys' club who keep trying to convince us the problem has been solved, and of their allies in the media, who keep trying to spin the narrative as a now-finished story that vindicates those who have given us the cover-up.

But the voices of survivors of clerical sexual abuse.  First and foremost.