Tuesday, March 5, 2013

As Papal Conclave Begins, Testimony of Abuse Survivors and Their Allies

As the papal conclave begins, here's the testimony of some survivors of childhood clerical sexual abuse, of friends and allies of survivors, and of the media, as the media listen to the voices of survivors:

In a media release, David Clohessy of SNAP notes that on its first day of pre-conclave meetings, the Vatican took six steps which suggest that it remains oblivious to the pleas of survivors of clerical sexual abuse for healing and justice:

To understand why so many Catholics and victims are disillusioned with the church hierarchy, consider what happened in Rome yesterday.

I won't enumerate the six steps David identifies, but I do encourage readers to click on the link and read  for yourselves his sobering assessment of the Vatican's first day of work as the conclave to elect a new pope gets underway.

In a NSAC News editorial, Kristine Ward also notes the refusal of the Vatican to listen to survivors as the papal conclave gathers. She writes,

Indeed what perpetrator priests did needs to be laid on the table in this pre-voting days right alongside what bishops and cardinals and popes did. 
How will Cardinals do that while they sitting beside Cardinal Roger Mahony, Cardinal Sean Brady, Cardinal Justin Rigali, and Cardinal Godfried Daneels? 
Only a real come to Jesus talk can get them to an honest to God examination of the crisis that results in removals, resignations, and convictions among their own ranks.

But as she asks, what are the odds that such a come to Jesus talk is going to happen? 

A talk of that sort can't happen, because the conclave is weighted from the outset to maintain a secretive system in which power is entirely concentrated at the top, and there is no accountability to anyone outside the small group of aging celibate men who run things in Catholicism.  Here's Jerry Slevin at Christian Catholicism introducing his latest statement there:

The Vatican Conclave clearly shows before the world media the infinite gap between what Cardinals preach and what they do. Cardinals call publicly for a new pastoral Pope that will be transparent and then attempt to elect him secretly. The process is so secret that the essential secret new dossier on Vatican corruption will be kept secret even in the secret election sessions. Three octogenerian Cardinals reportedly will secretly answer questions about the secret dossier. Those Cardinals who are fully clairvoyant may be able to ask the right questions. Those who are not, might as will give Cardinal Sodano some signed blank ballots, so he can fill in the Vatican clique’s candidate, and then go home. Unbelievable!

And, finally, here's a USA Today editorial arguing that "cardinals tied to coverup should not take part":

The election of a new pope is a once-in-a-generation opportunity for the church to cleanse itself — to remove those responsible for so much suffering and take steps to ensure that it won't happen again. The new pope will also have to confront financial scandals at the Vatican bank, where allegations of money laundering have been under investigation for years. Yet among those who will elect him are cardinals sure to oppose any candidate who would take such steps. 
By participating, they taint the sanctity of the process and the holiness of the office.

Certainly a lot of powerful, persuasive talking. But who's listening in Rome?  It's hard to for many of us stuck in this increasingly dysfunctional system--let's be honest: this increasingly nightmarish system--to imagine the cardinal electors are doing so.

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