The Pope’s Letter to All Believers

Written By: - Date published: 8:00 am, August 22nd, 2018 - 64 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, child abuse, crime, Deep stuff, International, leadership - Tags:

As a practising Catholic I have been waiting for Pope Francis to properly address the longstanding sexual crimes by Priests. Here is the full text of his letter addressed yesterday to all Catholic believers on the matter.

As you’d expect, there’s an awful lot of theological language and tonnes of quotes from the Bible and stuff like that. He does go on a bit, but it does affect well over a billion people in the world. Here’s a sample:

Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient. Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated.”

It’s not like any other major religious leader has actually done a mea culpa mea maxima culpa about sex crimes to the world. So good on him for speaking out and condemning the criminals.

But in the Pennsylvania situation alone, more than 300 predator priests were credibly accused of sexually molesting over 1,000 children. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro called it the “largest, most comprehensive report into child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church ever produced in the United States.”

So what the Pope needed to put in the letter was that the Catholic Church will ensure that accused abusers will be walked to the nearest Police station, make written statements, face trial, hopefully jailed, then defrocked, and excommunicated.

The Irish bishops who offered their resignations years ago should have been put on trial.

The Australian bishop from Adelaide and the Australian cardinal should be in jail sooner.

Sex crimes have been and continue to be as damaging to the Catholic church as ISIS has been to mainstream Islam.

People will keep on believing and attending and donating and socialising and going on pilgrimage, in small part because their faith transcends the crimes of the administrative machinery. Belief is weird like that. But this took too long. It has accelerated the emptying of believers from entire countries, such as Ireland.

I want the Police of all nations to break in to churches and interview priests. I want all the Pope’s cardinals to resign. And when they resign I want a shaming – that glorious weaponised moral impulse of the Catholic church – to be around all their necks like health warnings around cigarette packets.

64 comments on “The Pope’s Letter to All Believers”

  1. AsleepWhileWalking 1

    Yes, the Church needs more than a letter at this point.

    If those Boston Globe reporters never broke the initial story, so pervasive is their influence that its possible we still would not know the extent of the crimes committed by clergy.

  2. marty mars 2

    Gonna take more than a letter to make up for everything the church has done – probably a mitigation exercise to limit damages to the church.

  3. Lucy 3

    As a sometimes Catholic I am glad the Pope spoke, but like you am sad it was not more. There is no room for these bastards who use the church as a hunting ground. I do believe that the hierarchy of the church were gullible and stupid when it came to these evil men. Pedophiles are good at fooling children and adults so whilst we can condemn the men who missed the facts, it is hard to accept that people you know and trust can do that.

      • Cinny 3.1.1

        Religion provides cover for pedo’s, religion also excuses and even justifies such action by ‘forgiving sins’.

        Did considering sending Miss 13 to what appeared to be a very good catholic high school. But as they we asking for $3k from each student to pay to the diocese, was like … oh hell no I’m not donating to pay for lawyers to cover up pedo’s no matter how good the school is.

        • D'Esterre 3.1.1.1

          Cinny: “Did considering sending Miss 13 to what appeared to be a very good catholic high school.”

          Many years ago, we went to a presentation – hosted by the kindergarten – at which various local schools put their case for parents to enrol their child there.

          I grew up Catholic, left the church as a young adult. I wasn’t enthusiastic about Catholic education for offspring: final straw was that enrolments required the sign-off of parish priest. Partner and I looked at each other: we signed up for local state school. Never regretted that decision.

          • dukeofurl 3.1.1.1.1

            I think you would find its the ‘building fund’ as thats the only other charge they can make for the otherwise state funded school.
            eg
            http://www.smcs.school.nz/financial-contributions

            General Purpose Contribution $990.00pa
            Attendance Dues $430.00
            Special Catholic Character $ 50.00
            Voluntary Building Fund (charged to Eldest and Only child) $420.00
            ‘Attendance Dues are used to repay loans for building works done at schools in the Auckland Diocese, property related costs including school building works, buildings insurance and costs directly associated with the administration of attendance dues.’
            This was a primary school

            • Cinny 3.1.1.1.1.1

              This is what they have it listed under…with no explanation for the breakdown of that particular fee on their website.

              Attendance Dues – Compulsory Fee (paid directly to the Diocese)

              So just rang them a few moments ago, and yes Duke, you are correct they say it’s for building maintenance, and asked if their fee’s would put me off sending my children there.

              I replied no…. but using my money to pay for lawyers of pedophile priests would put me off…. big pause on the phone….
              Then I explained the pope addressed the problem in a letter yesterday…. the receptionist was like really?
              I’m like…yes…. ok thanks for your help and have a nice day 🙂

              • dukeofurl

                Church has a lot more assets and funds to call on other than your $800 . They would get a lot of bequests from estates, they own land, farms, factories and so on.
                Just in the name of the RC Bishop of Auckland the have 212 properties in the stuff articleship and they are valued at something like $600 mill. Yes some of those are churches and schools.
                That’s just one diocese of 6

                So forget about your money going for pedo priests defence fund

                • Cinny

                  Dang that’s a lot of money that could do so much good for so many needy people. Wow.

                • Tricledrown

                  Don’t forget these Catholic schools have full state funding equivalent to all state schools as well.

    • Draco T Bastard 3.2

      I do believe that the hierarchy of the church were gullible and stupid when it came to these evil men.

      IMO, It’s such hierarchies that enable such evil people.

      • Lucy 3.2.1

        Mine too large amounts of evil happens when good people do nothing. The good people are trying to take back the churches, the schools, the scouts, etc but so much trust and good will has been lost by their previous inaction

    • Tricledrown 3.3

      Lucy protecting the church’s public image over the victims.
      The Catholic Church is a Patriarchal cult.

  4. RedLogix 4

    Well it may only be a letter, and no words or even actions can undo the damage, but it is a line in the sand. There will be no going back from here.

    And while the two issues are probably not as tightly linked as many people imagine, it also sets the stage for the Church to abandon celibacy. Given that one of my great great grandfathers was an ex-priest I have to say the Church’s obdurate failure to accept the inevitability of this change is another black mark that needs addressing by this Pope.

    • dukeofurl 4.1

      have you read the Australian Royal Commision, they examined plenty of denominations/groups where celibacy isnt required.
      Anglican, Salvation Army , jewish, YMCA and even a Hindu organisation.

      • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1

        Yeah, it’s not celibacy that drives these people to commit sex crimes.

        • marty mars 4.1.1.1

          + 1 Yep absolutely nothing to do with celibacy.

        • dukeofurl 4.1.1.2

          Just as we have a #metoo accuser of Weinstein who has been revealed to have had an abusive sexual contact with a 17yr teenage guy.

          • marty mars 4.1.1.2.1

            Sounds like you’re got problems, for dragging that unrelated point in, to me.

            • dukeofurl 4.1.1.2.1.1

              Well yes. But blinkers are everywhere. There is example after example here.

              Isn’t their a whole lot of difference between say a priest in his 30s and a 17 yr old. And a Hollywood star and a 17 yr old?

              • marty mars

                this sub thread is about debunking the celibacy turns you into a sexual predator line – which I thought you were in alignment with but then this red herring was dropped in by you, so… I’m confused.

                • dukeofurl

                  of course you are right thats its not directly connected to ‘celibacy’ , but then celibacy is only marginally connected to sexual abuse.
                  I was just thinking of ‘taking advantage’ can occur in any situation, even though for women doing the the taking advantage its only a fraction of the times that males do so.

                  • Celibacy IS NOT related to sexual abuse. That is just lines used to diminish the responsibility of mainly males who are sexual abusers and can’t take responsibility for their own warped and abusive actions. This repressed sexual desire leading to sexual abuse lines are just mens rights bullshit – toxic and sick imo. And ultimately blaming others for their shit, usually women.

        • RedLogix 4.1.1.3

          Exactly where did you imagine I said that? If you are going to do a strawman you have to put some actual straw in, otherwise it just lies there all floppy.

          • Draco T Bastard 4.1.1.3.1

            And while the two issues are probably not as tightly linked as many people imagine, it also sets the stage for the Church to abandon celibacy.

            Just there.

            IIRC, There was another comment from you that implied the same things a day or two ago.

            • RedLogix 4.1.1.3.1.1

              As I suspected because of your ideological narrowness you tend to read into things what you expect to see. You’ve taken something I said that doesn’t make a narrow binary black and white statement, and purposely crumpled it into a demented Mobius strip.

              I’ll clarify that quote above which has gotten you so anxious. Absolutely as I said elsewhere in the threads there is no direct causual link between celibacy and pedophilia. That’s bloody obvious and insulting that you imagine I would be saying such a stupid thing. (But that didn’t stop you claiming it anyway … repeatedly.)

              But neither does it necessarily mean there is no wider association, that both issues are not independently linked to a deeper more fundamental cultural questions within the Catholic Church. That’s a perfectly reasonable point to discuss … unless of course want to keep putting words into my mouth to suit your own purposes.

              • Draco T Bastard

                Absolutely as I said elsewhere in the threads there is no direct causual link between celibacy and pedophilia.

                I haven’t seen you say that anywhere. You’ve mentioned a couple of times that maybe now the Catholic Church should drop celibacy within the context of this abuse with the clear implication that celibacy was a cause of priestly sexual abuse.

                But neither does it necessarily mean there is no wider association, that both issues are not independently linked to a deeper more fundamental cultural questions within the Catholic Church. That’s a perfectly reasonable point to discuss

                But not what you said.

                I didn’t put words in your mouth. I simply responded to your words. If you didn’t mean what you said then perhaps you should have said it better.

                • RedLogix

                  Nope … you read what you wanted to read. At 4.2.1 and 6.2.1.1 I clarified exactly what I meant.

                  I was of course making quite the different point that the Church has a much deeper and broader cultural issue around it’s attitudes towards human sexuality into which issues like celibacy, contraception, abortion and institutional capture by abusers are all probably linked. Every other actual Catholic on this thread has more or less agreed on this general idea.

                  But you and marty can keep charging down a chimera of your own devising if you want. Enjoy the view from wherever it is you wind up.

    • D'Esterre 4.2

      RedLogix: “And while the two issues are probably not as tightly linked as many people imagine…”

      They’re not linked at all. There are as many issues with paedophilia and sexual abuse in religions which allow clergy to marry.

      In my view, it’s a bit of a cop-out for Catholics to suggest otherwise, and I’ve certainly heard just that from family members who (unlike me) remain churchgoers.

      The church has for centuries had issues with paedophilia; it’s a culture with a deep history. There’s been a bit of commentary about this aspect. Don’t have links to hand, but will have a scout about later, when I have some time.

      • RedLogix 4.2.1

        I agree there isn’t a direct link, that’s more or less the point I was making. And while this issue is most certainly not uniquely confined to Catholicism, I’d need persuading to accept that it’s equally a problem elsewhere.

        My view is that celibacy is a part of a wider culture that suppresses honest discussion, perpetuates an atmosphere of silence and shame, and in turn created the perfect environment for devious and deceptive abusers to flourish unchallenged.

        • Ad 4.2.1.1

          Agree with that. From experience with priests and long-time Catholic families.

          Current Pope would need to shift a whole bunch of Cardinals, and have a whole bunch of new talent in the Sacred Congregation for the Defence of the Faith , and have a pretty good role carved out for the Orders who continued to choose celibacy, before he gave all Priests the ability to marry.

          Probably he would need another five years in the job to really start that.

          And so far he’s pretty gradualist.

          • weston 4.2.1.1.1

            Shouldnt he set a good example for the obviously homosexual priests and take a partner ?

          • dukeofurl 4.2.1.1.2

            They have allowed Anglican married clergy who convert to Catholicism to miantain a sort of ministry.

            • Ad 4.2.1.1.2.1

              Yes and he’s making exceptions when older married guys want to become ordained and there are few if any Priests in the area to take Mass.

              I would hope to see married Catholic Priests in my lifetime.

              • dukeofurl

                Not enough priests?
                They just import them from the Phillipines like the dairy farmers do for ‘experienced farm dairy workers’

  5. Morrissey 5

    When will a U.S. president or a British prime minister ever have the integrity and honesty to write something like this?

  6. Bill 6

    I’m not religious and have no axe to grind. But I suspect the Catholic church, like any other organisation with hierarchical structures, was simply vulnerable to capture.

    Capture can be ideological or cultural in nature, and given the element of time involved with the church, it was always going to have the potential to run very deep.

    But you know how this plays out. The church, as the host, gets to be in the direct line of fire for the behaviour coming from that parasitic culture, and there are plenty of people who will be motivated to ensure that remains the case.

    • dukeofurl 6.1

      Its not a recent thing

      .”There are cases of sexual abuse that are coming to light every day against a great number of the members of the Catholic clergy. Unfortunately, we are perhaps not talking so much about individual cases but rather a collective moral crisis that the cultural history of humanity may never have known at such a frightful and concerning level. Numerous priests and religious have confessed to the crime. There is no doubt that the thousands of cases that have come to be known to the authorities represent only a small fraction of the true number, since many molesters have been covered and hidden by the hierarchy.”

      Goebbels 1937. Its unfortunate such a vile person could have been correct

    • RedLogix 6.2

      Yes. A host that was especially vulnerable for the reasons I outlined above at 4.2.1. And this I contend is the deeper issue that remains poorly addressed.

      • Bill 6.2.1

        I’d agree that any institutional insistence on celibacy is fucking stupid. And I’d probably be easily convinced that anything short of absolutely consensual and freely opted for celibacy could well warp a person somewhat.

        But that all sits a million miles distant from paedophilia.

        If you can point to a complete absence of paedophilia in the Eastern Orthodox Church that has no requirement for celibacy, and if you can further point to paedophiles outwith a church setting generally being otherwise celibate, then you might have the beginnings of a point.

        • RedLogix 6.2.1.1

          The poor reading comprehension on this thread is tiresome, but one last time. Obviously there isn’t a direct link. That’s what my first comment implies, even if everyone here wants to persist in imagining the exact opposite.

          But a culture that treats sex as something ‘fallen’ seems to have been especially vulnerable to exactly the capture you point to. And given that celibacy was highly emblematic of an organisation that treated sexuality with large doses of shame and secrecy, drawing a connection between the two isn’t unreasonable.

          My partner who grew up in a strong Catholic family has repeatedly spoken on this theme.

          • dukeofurl 6.2.1.1.1

            Is your partner an ex priest?
            I get the feeling that there are more than just casual reasons for your views

            • RedLogix 6.2.1.1.1.1

              An interest speculation dol, but no. Personally I grew up in a very Anglican/Epsom family, but my partner comes from a mad fundie Catholic background. To cut a longish story very short, we went to her father’s funeral mainly to ensure the old bugger really was in the box. (Her words not mine.)

              I’ve no particular axe to grind against the Catholic Church, although it has to be said as an institution it really does have the most extraordinary history (putting it mildly).

              But you are right, there is another reason for my views, they aren’t casual at all. Sincerely I’m going to have to apologise for remaining coy about it.

    • McFlock 7.1

      Wow – I didn’t know the bishops were actively requesting that the church be examined as part of the royal commission. That’s massive.

  7. Tricledrown 8

    Clearing the decks before visiting Ireland where babies and toddlers were murdered and in 1 case 50 toddlers and babies buried in a septic tank.
    Along with all the other sexual abuses and corruption the Catholic Church in Ireland is the laughing stock of Morality and in serious decline.

    • D'Esterre 8.1

      Tricledrown: “Along with all the other sexual abuses and corruption the Catholic Church in Ireland…”

      Some years ago, at the height of the Catholic church child sex abuse scandal in Ireland, I read commentary from somebody who observed that the Irish church was “holed below the waterline” by the ugly revelations.

      In the years since, two events attest to the truth of that. The first is the public vote in favour of gay marriage, the second, the vote in favour of liberalising abortion laws.

      These two issues are foundation stones for the church: Irish votes for liberalisation constitute a giant middle finger to the Catholic establishment. I don’t think the Irish church can recover from it.

      • Tricledrown 8.1.1

        Considering the Catholic Church was set up as a tool to pacify the peasants under the empire cheaper than paying soldiers. Breeding for the empire.
        Women subjugated by rewriting the Bible on the Island of Crete under King Constantine s direction.

        • dukeofurl 8.1.1.1

          That’s nothing compared to how the buddist Lama church in Tibet did things

          • Tricledrown 8.1.1.1.1

            Dukeoferl religion is a quasi political movement a totalitarian regime.
            Patriarchal my religion is better than yours believers are like football hooligans willing to go to war no matter how bad their team is.
            In religions case imaginary gods that don’t exist are the team.

    • dukeofurl 8.2

      Babies weren’t murdered. It was just deaths which can happen with very young babies, considering Ireland was a very backward country in medical care at the time. Still births, usual things on top of that would take newborns at the time. Wasn’t helped by nuns who would think it was all God’s will.

      • Tricledrown 8.2.1

        Duke of Earl they were murdered by the Church the colonial power GB.
        Gave £1 per week to the Catholic Church to care and feed these children
        The money never made it to the upkeep of these children they were murdered by neglect.
        £1per week was a fortune in Ireland at the time
        The Catholic Church literally fucked Ireland they were as bad as the English.
        The Vatican profiteered from the poverty and perversion they created.

  8. D'Esterre 9

    “Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient.”

    So: no prosecutions then?

    “as well as implementing zero tolerance and ways of making all those who perpetrate or cover up these crimes accountable. We have delayed in applying these actions and sanctions that are so necessary…”

    Or is this where he says that there should be large-scale prosecutions?

    “…prayer and penance will help. I invite the entire holy faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting, following the Lord’s command.”

    Ok: now it’s everybody’s fault, so all Catholics have to do penance?

    Huh. In my view, this is a very long way from explicit acceptance of the crimes committed by generations of priests and other religious, or determination to see prosecutions of perpetrators still alive, along with those who covered up for the abusers.

    This letter looks to me like yet more papal obfuscation. The church must do better.

  9. Grantoc 10

    The Catholic church in my opinion has long lost it’s last vestiges of moral authority.

    I have always found it odd that this church is so obsessed with sex and assumed that it had the right to instruct not only its own congregations on sexual behaviour, but frequently the world as a whole. When I married for the first time, my then wife was Catholic. Her parents (her mother in particular) insisted that we should be ‘instructed’ by a priest on the intricacies of intimacy in a marriage relationship.

    At one level I struggled to contain my contempt for the smug priest who took on this task. I couldn’t take the ‘advice’ of such a person seriously; especially given that they had never experienced an intimate marriage relationship and all that that implies.

    At another level it was just a sad joke.

    Fast forward to the present day and the sick tragedy of priestly instruction on matters sexual requires high level investigation from governments throughout the world of the sort that the Australian government initiated a year or two back.

    If in the meantime the Catholic church is incapable of rigorously reinventing itself and dealing to the arrogance of its leadership, then its best ignored and encouraged to self destruct.

    • RedLogix 10.1

      Precisely. Absolutely aligns with my partners own experience.

      It’s worth noting here that we lived much of the past five years in Ballarat, the very epicentre of the Australian tragedy. On three occasions we met socially with a local priest who was one of those who’ve been face to face with the consequences. It’s taken a terrible personal toll on many many people, and there remains a lot of frustration at the slow, wrongheaded and tone-deaf responses from the Church until now.

      Maybe this Papal letter will be the first step in lancing the boil.

    • Ad 10.2

      It’s outlasted the Roman Empire, the Renaissance, the Reformation, Communism, and bunches of other stuff.

      But yeah, there are parts of it that can’t die soon enough.
      This un-faced criminal wave is a culture of death itself.

      This Pope has to prove that he’s up to rebuilding an institution that promotes life, not rape and pedophilia.

      • RedLogix 10.2.1

        Yes. While it’s certainly true that pedophiles are not confined to the Catholic Church (as others have rightly pointed out), it’s my impression that Catholicism has been unique to the degree to which they captured and perverted the very institutions of the faith.

        That is the very troubling question this Pope must face head on.

  10. corodale 11

    Some causes mentioned in the letter are a culture of clericalism, and corruption:

    “Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today. To say “no” to abuse is to say an emphatic “no” to all forms of clericalism.”

    “A solidarity that summons us to fight all forms of corruption, especially spiritual corruption.”

    “…even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”

    “To look to Mary is to discover the model of a true follower of Christ.”

    One extra fundamental problem (not specifically mentioned in the letter) is the political power of the Church. Satan is naturally drawn to this power. Thus the true solution is maximising the separation of spiritual-practice and financial and political influence. This letter may be a genuine signal, that the Church is aiming to reduce their political influence on affairs beyond the Church. Otherwise, Satan, political capture and other harmful acts of corruption will keep returning in one form or another.

    Are politics, money and spiritual-practice best keep separate? I suspect this is one of God’s messages to the Church at this hour. Being the biggest church in the world has special challenges. Wishing them well.

    • RedLogix 11.1

      Hey … great comment. In all the other distractions I didn’t think to read the whole body of the Letter.

    • Tricledrown 11.2

      Corodale like lambs to the slaughter.
      The Catholic Church is the Roman Empires last vestige.
      Blaming Another fictitious invention for the failures of the Religion(brain washing opium for the masses)
      Is pure fantasy/escapism.
      Humans are just another animal who have harnessed nature and think they are superior by indulging in a modern paganism.
      It’s futile to argue with these brain washed modern day Pagans because their whole being relies on this belief in invisible non existant male white god that has no proof of existance.
      The Catholic Church was founded by King Constantine to subjugate women to become breeders for the empire and keep the peasants under control.
      Every religion claims theirs is the only religion but in reality its just quasi politicking using fake news.
      New age paganism.
      If God really existed he would have a brand name for it.
      Religions are founded where extreme hardship exists for escapism.

      • corodale 11.2.1

        Sure, I believe H. G. Wells has a non-fiction book which covers the darkness of their history, which I would like to skim read someday. But there is also a positive human-side to the Catholics. If given the choice between neighbours, between a believer of Catholicism (Pagan-Christian), or Zionism (Babylonian-Pagan-Jew), I would choice to welcome the Catholic.

        “Every religion claims to be the only…” I don’t think so. Most try to believe in a one God, and use their religion as the practical way of developing their relationship with God, or Zen or whatever. I find there are just a few rear examples like the Jews, who call themselves “the chosen people”, which is fine with me, but they do so at their own peril.

  11. Ovid 12

    “The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine – but for unbelievers a proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight.” – Hilaire Belloc.

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