Friday, February 19, 2016

Abuse Survivor Megan Peterson on Pope Francis's Recent Statement About Holding Bishops Accountable: Actions Talk Louder Than Words

In what I posted earlier today about Pope Francis's recent statement that a bishop who moves a priest to another parish when a case of pedophilia is discovered is irresponsible man and should resign, I stated, 

But, of course, if that statement is to have teeth, then the Vatican needs to get cracking right away and do everything it can to assure that such bishops do resign. Which would make for a huge number of episcopal sees for the Vatican to fill down the road from the crop of resignations . . . .

And then I referred to the case of Bishop Arulappan Amalraj of Ootacamund, India, who recently placed Father Joseph Jeyapaul back in ministry — with Vatican approval — though Jeyapaul has been convicted of sexually assaulting a teenaged girl in Minnesota.

Here's an excerpt from the very important response of Megan Peterson, who was sexually abused by Father Jeyapaul, to what Pope Francis has just said:

Yesterday, Pope Francis added insult to injury when he said a bishop who transfers a predator should resign and asked "Is that clear?" Just days ago, the Vatican lifted the suspension of my perpetrator, even though he was pled guilty to child sex crimes. So, no, Francis, you are NOT clear. Your words do not match your actions. 
And let me be clear: Just this past week, Catholic officials decided to put the priest who raped me back into ministry. A bishop referred his case to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the office lifted his suspension from church office. Now Joseph Jeyapaul will be assigned to a parish somewhere. 
It has left me feeling abused and degraded. The Vatican’s decision and the Pope's recent comments reopens wounds that have barely begun to heal; it tells me and other survivors that our suffering matters nothing to them. It’s hard for me to separate the cruel assertion of power and authority that my rapist used on me from the cruel assertion of institutional power and authority that can put a rapist back into ministry. They both show complete disregard for the humanity and wellbeing of others. 
I hope actions, like Jeyapaul’s reinstatement and the Vatican’s announcement earlier this month that new bishops have no obligation to report sexual violence by clergy to civil authorities, will speak louder than the pope’s rhetoric about this crisis.

If Pope Francis really believes in building bridges, then there obviously needs to be a bridge built — and right away! — between him and the community of Catholic abuse survivors. If he expects his words about abuse to be taken seriously, then he needs to listen carefully to the important things that people like Megan Peterson have to tell him.

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