August 21, 2018

Pope Francis Confesses to Catholics

Pope Francis in Prato (87)
By Zebra48bo [CC BY-SA 4.0], from Wikimedia Commons
I see that Pope Francis has condemned child rape by his clergy and the largely successful efforts by his Church to conceal these crimes and enable them to continue. I suppose that's better than nothing...maybe. The thing is, I feel like we've been here before. News of this latest condemnation, which follows the most recent in a long series of Catholic clergy abuse scandals, seems familiar because I think we have seen it before at least a few times. Haven't we seen something similar almost every time the Church has been unable to keep the story from the public?

Apologies are great and all, but those that aren't accompanied by sincere efforts to change whatever one is apologizing for probably should not be perceived as valid. He's sorry. Okay, so what is he going to do about it? I realize there is only so much he can do to prevent his clergy from raping children. At a minimum, it seems like he could take steps to end the secrecy around it and make sure that those who did it were promptly turned over to law enforcement.

This report from the BBC makes it sound like the Vatican wants us to think this apology is a big deal because "The Vatican says it is the first time a Pope has addressed a letter to the entire Catholic population on the topic of sex abuse." This is probably a dumb question, but I'll ask it anyway: Has every victim of the Catholic Church, no matter how young they were at the time, been Catholic? I'd guess not. Maybe the next post-scandal letter will take this into account and the recipients won't be limited to Catholics.

Maybe there's another way to look at the Pope's letter, a way that makes it seem a bit more positive. Maybe it should be described as a confession.

If you are interested in learning more about what you can do to help, check out BishopAccountability.org and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.