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.