Pope Francis calls for an ‘all-out battle’ against the evil of sexual abuse

Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the Vatican, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019. Pope Francis celebrated a final Mass to conclude his extraordinary summit of Catholic leaders summoned to Rome for a tutorial on preventing clergy sexual abuse and protecting children from predator priests. (Giuseppe Lami/Pool Photo via AP)

In his closing talk to the Vatican summit for the protection of minors, Pope Francis offered a wide-ranging analysis of the plague of the sexual abuse of minors in the world and the Catholic Church. He committed the church to do everything possible to eradicate it from within the church itself and from society as a whole.

“We are facing a universal problem, tragically present almost everywhere and affecting everyone,” Pope Francis said in a 30-minute talk at the end of Mass, which he celebrated in the Sala Regia, next to the Sistine Chapel, with the patriarchs, cardinals, bishops and priests who had participated in the four-day summit on the protection of minors.

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Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane gave the homily at the summit’s closing Mass, saying that like Nicolaus Copernicus’ discovery that the earth revolves around the sun, the church is in need of a “Copernican revolution” where “those who have been abused do not revolve around the church but the church around them.”

“In discovering this, we can begin to see with their eyes and to hear with their ears; and once we do that, the world and the church begin to look quite different,” he said. “This is the necessary conversion, the true revolution and the great grace, which can open for the church a new season of mission.”

The church needs a “Copernican revolution” where “those who have been abused do not revolve around the church but the church around them.”

Pope Francis’ talk surprised media commentators because he did not provide any of “the concrete measures” that he had called for at the beginning of the summit on Feb. 21. Informed sources who participated in the summit, however, told America these would come later through a substantial and sustained follow-up to the summit.

In fact at the conclusion of the summit, Frederico Lombardi, S.J., who served as the gathering’s moderator, announced that Pope Francis will issue a motu propio “on the protection of minors and vulnerable persons” and that “this document will accompany a new law of Vatican City State and Guidelines for the Vicariate of Vatican City on the same subject.”

He said in a statement that the pope “has expressed the intention of creating task forces of competent persons to help episcopal conferences and dioceses that find it difficult to confront the problems and produce initiatives for the protection of minors.”

[Follow America’s comprehensive coverage of the Vatican sex abuse summit]

“These first steps are encouraging signs that will accompany us in our mission of preaching the Gospel and of serving all children throughout the world, in mutual solidarity with all people of goodwill who want to abolish every form of violence and abuse against minors,” Father Federico Lombardi said.

In his closing talk, Pope Francis provided data demonstrating that the sexual abuse of minors is prevalent first of all in families. But, he said, the statistics “do not represent the real extent of the phenomenon...because many cases of the sexual abuse of minors go unreported, particularly the great number committed within families.”

“Today we find ourselves before a manifestation of brazen, aggressive and destructive evil.”

He noted that the “anguish tragically leads to bitterness, even suicide, or at times to seek revenge by doing the same thing. The one thing certain is that millions of children in the world are victims of exploitation and of sexual abuse.”

Pope Francis, however, went beyond a review of the data to expose what he has discerned as the underlying force behind all this: “Today we find ourselves before a manifestation of brazen, aggressive and destructive evil. Behind and within, there is the spirit of evil, which in its pride and in its arrogance considers itself the Lord of the world and thinks that it has triumphed.”

Speaking as “pastor of the church,” Pope Francis said: “In these painful cases, I see the hand of evil that does not spare even the innocence of the little ones. And this leads me to think of the example of Herod who, driven by fear of losing his power, ordered the slaughter of all the children of Bethlehem.”

Notwithstanding the worldwide nature of the problem, Pope Francis said, “we need to be clear that while gravely affecting our societies as a whole, this evil is in no way less monstrous when it takes place within the church.”

Indeed, he said, “the brutality of this worldwide phenomenon becomes all the more grave and scandalous in the church, for it is utterly incompatible with her moral authority and ethical credibility.” He emphasized the fact that “consecrated persons, chosen by God to guide souls to salvation, let themselves be dominated by their human frailty or sickness and thus become tools of Satan.”

“From today, the church’s aim will thus be to hear, watch over, protect and care for abused, exploited and forgotten children, wherever they are.”

As church leaders, Francis said, “we need to recognize with humility and courage that we stand face to face with the mystery of evil, which strikes most violently against the most vulnerable, for they are an image of Jesus.”

For this reason, he said, “the church has become increasingly aware of the need not only to curb the gravest cases of abuse by disciplinary measures and civil and canonical processes but also to decisively confront the phenomenon both inside and outside the church.”

Francis said the church “feels called to combat this evil that strikes at the very heart of her mission, which is to preach the Gospel to the little ones and to protect them from ravenous wolves.”

He made unequivocally clear, however, that “if in the church there should emerge even a single case of abuse—which already in itself represents an atrocity—that case will be faced with the utmost seriousness.” He did not use the expression “zero tolerance” as he has done before and as victims had hoped he would, but he left no doubt that decisive action would be taken on every case of abuse.

Francis urged all Catholics to help the church be liberated “from the plague of clericalism, which is the fertile ground for all these disgraces.”

Francis said that “in people’s justified anger, the church sees the reflection of the wrath of God, betrayed and insulted by these deceitful consecrated persons.” Moreover, he said, “the silent cry of the little ones who, instead of finding in them fathers and spiritual guides encountered tormentors, will shake hearts dulled by hypocrisy and by power.”

Summing up the summit’s discussion, Pope Francis said that “from today, the church’s aim will thus be to hear, watch over, protect and care for abused, exploited and forgotten children, wherever they are.” But “to achieve that goal, the church must rise above the ideological disputes and journalistic practices that often exploit, for various interests, the very tragedy experienced by the little ones.”

Francis said that “the time has come to work together to eradicate this evil from the body of our humanity by adopting every necessary measure already in force on the international level and ecclesial levels.”

In this context, he said, it is necessary “to find a correct equilibrium of all values in play” and “to provide uniform directives for the church, avoiding the two extremes of a ‘justicialism’ provoked by guilt for past errors and media pressure”—perhaps referring to a kind of lynch-mob reaction—“and a defensivenessthat fails to confront the causes and effects of these grave crimes,” referring to those who have not yet grasped the gravity of the situation.

The pope sought to locate the abuse of minors by clergy in the wider reality by showing that the sexual abuse of minors is widespread in the world. “It is difficult to grasp the phenomenon of the sexual abuse of minors without considering power,” he said, “since it is always the result of an abuse of power, an exploitation of the inferiority and vulnerability of the abused, which makes possible the manipulation of their conscience and of their psychological and physical weakness.”

He urged all Catholics to help the church be liberated “from the plague of clericalism, which is the fertile ground for all these disgraces.”

“I make a heartfelt appeal for an all-out battle against the abuse of minors both sexually and in other areas, on the part of all authorities and individuals, for we are dealing with abominable crimes that must be erased from the face of the earth,” the pope said.

Material from Catholic News Service was used in this report.

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John Sharpe
4 weeks ago

Clericalism exists but it is not the cause of the perversion within the priesthood. Clericalism kicks in to circle the wagons in order to hide the promiscuity and immorality that is fostered with in the priesthood. Prosecuting those who get caught stepping over the line of abusing under aged minors after the fact does not address the problem.

J. Calpezzo
4 weeks ago

Clericalism shares the blame for the sexual abuse crisis, and, moreover, it is the biggest problem in the Church today....bigger even than the sexual abuse crisis itself.

Lisa M
4 weeks ago

Definitely

James Haraldson
4 weeks ago

What an idiotic way to look at the problem than to contrive a word and an idea like clericalism whereby both the abusers and everyone looking at the problem who don't really want to look at the problem can take a safe phony refuge. The problem is willful moral depravity, the very thing all liberal Catholics have been seeking to justify on an unconscious level for decades with all manner of theological sophistry trying to convince themselves that there are no moral absolutes. An ecclesial culture that rejects moral absolutes, is an ecclesial culture where its most depraved souls rape children or promote the killing of the preborn.

Mike Macrie
3 weeks 6 days ago

Why would a single man, born with sexual needs as any person, would want to become a Priest ? How are the sexual issues addressed in Seminary School before a single man is ordained to be a Priest ? Is there a Rush to Ordain going on because of the shortage of Priests ? It’s too easy to blame Liberals because the majority of these guys were old and ordained in a Conservative Climate in the Church. The door must be open to re-examine who the Church allows to be Priest. This will create a greater shortage and thus the need to allow Married Men and Women into the Priesthood. No matter how many times you kick the can around it comes back to bringing the right dedicated souls into the Priesthood.

lynne miller
3 weeks 4 days ago

The vows of poverty and chastity are sacrifices offered to God. I thought that was clear.

Christopher Scott
4 weeks ago

Yes, it’s as if Pope France said the laity is complicit with church clericalism. Most people think that word was invented 6 month ago to deflect the investigation. It’s the responsibility of the church leaders to speak truth to the pop secular culture, not to become part of it and then declare “we’re all in this together” They can’t lie or hide to the laity about the behavior within the church walls and then blame the laity with the whataboutism excuse. The fact that priest today are still quiet about their sexuality speaks volumes.

Dr Robert Dyson
4 weeks ago

"It’s the responsibility of the church leaders to speak truth to the pop secular culture, not to become part of it and then declare 'we’re all in this together' "

Yes; and that is precisely the view of the Church that Vatican II brought to an end. When modernism triumphed, the evils of modernism triumphed also.

arthur mccaffrey
4 weeks ago

this is a stunt that Francis has been pulling ever since events rubbed his nose in abuse and forced him to confront it--it is a kind of 'themtooism' as if to say we are part of a bigger problem (thank god) so don't just focus on us. It sounds like a get out of jail free card that he likes to play in order to draw some of the heat away from the church. Kinda like saying, "I know I am selling rotten vegetables, but so is the guy down the street, so we had better all mount this campaign against rotten vegetables". Any shopkeeper (or Pope) with any integrity would attend to his own affairs first, before pointing fingers. What was it Christ said at the sermon on the mount (Matt.7:5):"thou hypocrite!- first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye”.

J Brookbank
4 weeks ago

Well said, Arthur.

J Brookbank
4 weeks ago

Well said, Arthur.

Dr Robert Dyson
4 weeks ago

Concrete measures? No - just more flannel and evasion, as expected.

Will Nier
4 weeks ago

I hope whatever they approved is not just more pie in the sky sayings like this: "He committed the church to do everything possible to eradicate it from within the church itself and from society as a whole."

How do you stop child abuse/pedophilia/ sex abuse of Nuns! May I may I suggest never. All you can do is have a universal of procedure's in place for handing the case over to legal civil authorities then having Rome and/or the Bishops take care legal expenses and compensation to the victims as well as immediate dismissal and laicization of the clerics involved regardless of rank.

Crystal Watson
4 weeks ago

What a waste of time. Nothing will change.

Paul Mclaughlin
4 weeks ago

Can we get beyond bitching about how badly the Church behaved. We all know that. This meeting should have been about reviewing concrete proposals. Waiting for a couple of months for something is not acceptable. It shows that having clerics trying to fix themselves is like asking kids to develop a means for not eating candy.

I love Francis, but his focus on process this weekend was a huge missed opportunity. He should have said - look it kids, I don’t have much time left on the clock. Therefore, I ain’t going to leave a mess behind. I am going to convene a lay dominated task force to examine the the canonical rules that give us - the clergy - too much say and power over the Church. No teaching on the role, authority and responsibility of clergy - including yours truly - will not be examined and tested to answer the question: does this rule allow the clergy, bishops, Cardinals and Pope to run the place like a king, not a shepherd? The Club must and will change.

I would expect a report on the findings within 45 day and recommendations for changes 90 days after the first report. The clocks will begin ticking the moment the Committee members are appointed.

Watch for more concrete steps in the days, not weeks ahead.

Michael Barberi
4 weeks ago

The results and statements, so far, from this Synod on Sexual Abuse is extremely disappointing and even irresponsible since many of the most important issues and questions were not addressed or mentioned. Below is a very short list of issues/questions not addressed.

1. Will a thorough lay-lead investigation be commissioned to get to the truth about all allegations in the PA Grand Jury Report, as well as in the entire McCarrick scandal? With respect to McCarrick, why did Pope JP II promote him to Cardinal when many bishops and cardinals knew about his decades of sexual abuse as well as the Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S.? Will the findings of these investigations be made public?

2. What specific actions will be implemented to address the root causes of clergy sexual abuse and its coverup? Who will monitor and investigate all future allegations of sexual abuse and coverup and enforce all rules and policies?

3. Will all heterosexual and homosexual priests and bishops be asked to resign if found guilty of the sexual abuse of minors, consensual sex with adults, coverup of sexual abuse and/or gross negligence of office?

4. Will a list of all clergy and bishops who have been found guilty of sexual abuse and in its coverup be made public?

5. How will the Church accurately and fairly determine if a sincere homosexual will most likely not be able to abide by the vows of celibacy and abstinence and therefore be denied admission to seminaries? Is the focus on screening homosexuals only? What about heterosexuals?

Colin Jory
4 weeks ago

This is absolutely sickening tripe, wilfully and wickedly contrived to cover up the real factors in the Church and in Western society principally responsible for the paedophilia epidemic in the Church, a phenomenon mainly of the 1970s and 1980s. Exteriorly, we had the sexual revolution with its mantra, "if it feels good, do it!"-- anything sexual was OK, including paedophilia which socially liberal forces, drawing on the Kinsey reports, back then represented as a good thing for the victims. In the Church we had the massive "re-thinking" of the Church's teachings on sexual morality, sin, the Afterlife, magisterial authority, and more, triggered by the reaction against Humanae Vitae, and tolerated from moral cowardice by Rome and national hierarchies. Sexual sin became "no big deal", and morally permissible if accordant with a permissive pretend-conscience. Heterosexual priests and religious abandoned their vocations in huge numbers , from a mix of desire to marry and a collapse of belief in the Church's authority. Active homosexuality became rampant among sections of the clergy who remained, and totally corrupted a vast number of seminaries around the world. Those among the homosexually-inclined who were also inclined to paedophilia were especially prone to corruption in this atmosphere, which is why everywhere 80% or more of convicted clerical paedophiles and hebophiles have been homosexual . This is the herd of elephants in the Church's kitchen -- but none of it is acknowledged in the disingenuous summative official statements of the disingenuously stage-managed episcopal summit on clerical sexual abuse of minors. "Clericalism" and "power abuse" are to blame for everything! The whole farce stinks to high heaven.

William McGovern
4 weeks ago

When I see concrete measures involving a partnership among the ordained, religious and laity to manage and administer the Church, I will believe that there is a serious effort to reform

Lisa M
4 weeks ago

It's the consciences of those in power that need self reflection. Thank God Pope Francis recognized it, No rules or committees will change behaviour, and that's what needs to change with our bishops. Cardinal Cupich summed it up perfectly.

Eileen Callahan
4 weeks ago

Where can I sign up as a competent person to sit on a US panel to clean up this mess! Or should I look for a new Church — one where a well educated, morally strong, compassionate yet firm WOMAN can make a difference. Men have been running this show for too long!! Give me a shot at it!

Mike Macrie
3 weeks 6 days ago

Can’t argue with that logic !

Deplorable Me
3 weeks 6 days ago

Absolutely Eileen! Look for a new Church, a true Church that teaches you the Word of God and not the ever changing and solely man made dictates of a fallible, sinful, man y'all call your "Father". Pagan as any religion that ever existed.

J. Calpezzo
4 weeks ago

Roger Mahony

Jim Spangler
4 weeks ago

Just more empty clanging of the bells, that make no music blowing in the wind! Pope Francis is a word manipulator, has no idea of enforcing transparency, and justice amongst his homosexual clerics. Like all of a sudden after hundreds of years, they had to call a conference in Rome to realize how terrible that sex abuse is on children. What about the sex abuse of adults, and seminarians. People realize that what happened in Rome over the last few days is equivalent to one big fart, or blowing of gas! We'll wait for the next pin to drop, and then it will be a bunch of mearacupa's all over again. What a discussing bunch of old feeble derelicts. Is there an honest one among them that we can truly call a "man" who will step forth! Frances needs to resign, and his hierarchy needs to be defrocked! Is there no honest man in this world????????

Molly Roach
4 weeks ago

I'm looking forward to the findings of the two federal grand juries that have been empaneled. RICO approaches.

J Brookbank
4 weeks ago

At least there was not a repeat of the first day's abusive-husband's classic lecture about how victims will be happier if they forgive their abusers. ( I am still beyond appalled that America, owned by the Jesuits one of our metaphorical abusive husbands, published that Tagle article and gave it pride of place on the website).

So I see this as a glimmer of glimmer of change. And still much too late, at least here in the US. The cops are on the way: https://www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/cardinal-admits-vatican-s… (Fr Matt, where is THIS piece of news?)

Chiara M
4 weeks ago

I totally agree. More spin from the world's oldest corporation?

Jack Mallory
3 weeks 6 days ago

"these would come later through a substantial and sustained follow-up to the summit."

Oh, that's rich. I suppose Pope Francis just needs a bit more time? Did the timing of this summit come as a surprise to him? He was so anxious to put the brakes on the U.S. Bishop's conference, and for what? To only postpone any definitive path forward even longer? This would be laughable, if not for being so entirely sad.

Decades of despicable and criminal behavior are not going to be thwarted by hollow proclamations and whataboutisms.

Crystal Watson
3 weeks 6 days ago

This, combined with the revelations in that book about the Vatican closet ... how can a rotten church teach anything reliable?

Adeolu Ademoyo
3 weeks 6 days ago

Let us be clear and not stray off the issue. Yes, the Pope called for “concrete measures” at the beginning, rather I do not know if he said that he will announce those “concrete measures” at the end. Those who think the Pope said that he will announce the "concrete measures" that will solve all instances and cases of the evil of sex abuse in all countries the Church serves God's people right at the end of the summit should please inform us. It is important to understand what “measures” are and the type of “measures” to announce right away at the end of the summit and at different times in the life of the universal Church given the fundamental evil nature of the evil of sex abuse, and the different ways this evil occurs and is covered up in different countries. The need to recognize what (concrete measures) the Pope can take and will take right there at the end of the summit and consistently throughout the life of the universal Church (after the 2019 summit) as the outcomes of the summit interact with national laws in different countries where the universal Church serves God’s people is important.

This evil of sex abuse is real and must be pro-actively and aggressively fought and defeated by all of us regardless of our ideological orientations inside and outside the Church. What are also real as the Pope correctly points out are the “ideological disputes and journalistic practices that often exploit, for various interests, the very tragedy experienced by the little ones.”

Please note that the Pope does not call the press the enemy. He correctly alludes to ideologically defined journalistic practices which will not solve the evil but only promote the ideological views of the ideologue over the solution of one the greatest evil that has come to bedevil the Church, our Church, Christ Church. Our ideological differences are to be expected. Why not? We are humans. However, the evil of sexual abuse fundamentally transcends and supersedes ideological and theological differences.

So I am just wondering how ideological disputes which unhesitatingly and instantly dominates the discussion can help solve this evil. When we engage the issue from an ideological standpoint-as some of us do- rather than go headlong to attack the evil, we forget that sexual abuse predates the papacy of Pope Francis, a period that may be a period when a Pope which we may think “represented” and "espoused" our preferred ideological views served Christ and His Church! So? There has to be a minimum. When it comes to the evil of sexual abuse, let us put our ideological differences away and deal with the evil as members of one Body of Christ, after which those who wish to return can return to their preferred ideological trenches on other Church matters!

Lisa M
3 weeks 6 days ago

I sincerely doubt we are discussing ideological differences. Nothing Pope Francis said, or could have said would have been received in a positive light by those so determined to attack our Church and his papacy.. He 'dared' to mention forgiveness, yet the reality is forgiveness leads to healing for all of us who face pain and suffering. He is being mocked for blaming the crisis on clericalism, yet it is clericalism that has lead to additional, needless suffering, because bishops chose themselves over the victims, which lead to more victims, and more suffering. He 'wasted his time' on prayer and reflection, when clearly it is exactly what is needed. Perhaps, instead of the constant criticism of our Church, and of Pope Francis, we all spend a moment in prayer and self reflection, we may see things in a different light. A little humility goes a long way.

J Brookbank
3 weeks 6 days ago

Lisa, i think you have misunderstood mentions of problematic discussions of forgiveness at the Summit:

My statements refer to
1) Cardinal Tagle's opening day talk about the need to balance justice for victims with forgiveness for perpetrators;
2) America's decision to report on that talk rather than the powerful victim statements made that same day;
3) America's decision to place that article top and center on its website;
4) a comparison with a superior article in Natl Catholic Reporter by Jesuit Fr Thomas Reese about that same day. His focus was the victim statements and, when he got to the lecture by the perpetrating institution about how it is really in the best interests of victims to forgive their perpetrators, he said "too soon. don't guilt trip victims into meeting your needs. Perpetrators need to focus their energy on not perpetrating and ensuring justice as opposed to demanding that victims meet perps' needs. He was right on target.

Just FYI. Giving the RCC the benefit of the doubt has resulted in crimes. "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting different results."

And, yes, absolutely, how dare the perpetrators ---- who have not yet confessed all their crimes ---- tell their victims what the victims must do for the healing of victims AND perpetrators? THAT is part of the dynamic of clericalism, Lisa. "We know we are the perpetrators here but we are SPECIAL perpetrators". Nonsense. Perpetrators who are done perpetrating focus on their own behavior, thus returning to victims the agency and self-determination stolen from victims during the abuse. Perpetrators who tell victims how to heal are still perpetrating abuse; in other words, they are still exercising power and control in abusive ways.
In other contexts, we call that domestic violence or interpersonal violence.

Carla Eble
3 weeks 6 days ago

Well said. How dare they discuss being forgiven before they've delivered justice?

Lisa M
3 weeks 6 days ago

J Brookbank/Carla- My problem was, and remains the attacks on the Church and our pope, before, during and after the Summit, in that no matter what is said or done the attacks will continue. A perfect example is regarding forgiveness, which you both appear to find appalling. The fact is, in Cardinal Tagle's 30 minute speech, which was focussed on the harm done by the bishops' indifference to the wounded, and their need to be with the victims in their suffering, he discussed HOW TO HELP THE VICTIMS once 'justice is served", He spoke of the proposal by Dr Robert Enright, a pioneer in the field of social and scientific studies on forgiveness. In fact, his discussion on forgiveness had NOTHING to do with asking abuse victims for forgiveness, rather EVERYTHING to do with providing victims with the help they need to heal once justice has been served. This is yet another example of skewing the meaning and misrepresenting the facts in order to fit the narrative that the summit was a failure. All of the speeches can be read and or heard in their entirety if one is looking for the truth, and has an open mind.

J Brookbank
3 weeks 6 days ago

Lisa, I acknowledge that Tagle's talk referenced Enright's work, which is valuable and it was still an entirely inappropriate and tone-deaf and manipulative topic at this summit.

The healing value and imperative to strive for forgiveness is not news for Catholics (or, for that matter, any faith community I can think of). I don't know any Catholic or former Catholic who does not know this. I also know a lot of Catholics who believe offering forgiveness is more important than claiming justice for themselves and others. I know a lot of Catholics who believe that is the source of a lot of injustices in interpersonal relationships and institutional/societal contexts. It was appallingly disrespectful of Cardinal Tagle's to present that Enright's research at that moment in that context to those people.

Now is the moment for RCC hierarchs to focus entirely on their OWN conduct and their own behavior and choices going forward.

The Catholic and non-Catholic communities have made themselves clear: accountability and change are the imperative, the demand, the only acceptable response.

Call that an "attack" if you will, Lisa. I believe your position that the Church is under attack is a mistake which will not serve the People of God or God or the Church. It will not advance either justice OR forgiveness. Abusers are not "attacked"; they are held accountable. The cry "we are being attacked" ---- in the absence of threats or acts of violence to body and property ------ is always a good indicator that the abusive party has not truly relinquished the belief that what they have done/are doing is acceptable and that the abusive party believes they are exempt from real world consequences (which include loss of respect, trust, faith, resources, influence, etc.)

Lisa, our Church is deserving of the world's outrage and disgust and disgust and cry for punishment and retribution AND the profound discomfort that the hierarchy has lost the privilege of pastoral authority on the healing processes of their victims. Real. World. Consequences.

Lisa M
3 weeks 6 days ago

J- the Church has made it clear regarding accountability and transparency as well. So we all should be in agreement, but we are not. That's my point. As far as forgiveness, what you are suggesting is while Cardinal Tagle was discussing how to move forward with assisting the victims towards healing, he should have ignored the valuable science that shows the healing power of forgiveness, because some will jump on that and twist it to mean anything other than what it meant. As a relative of an abuse survivor, it is the help and healing which we are looking for; the recognition of the suffering, the role they played in it, and ultimately the help and healing they can provide so the lost soul is able to find meaning in their lives again. That requires speaking the truth.
Being troubled by all of the attacks on the Church and the pope does NOT mean one blindly accepts what has happened. What it means is one is open to the possibility that change can come, and to be negative no matter what is said or proposed does little to advance the cause. A lot of good was proposed this weekend. Let us see if it bares fruit, but let us not constantly decide it has not, and will not.

J Brookbank
3 weeks 6 days ago

Lisa, I did not suggest Tagle should "ignored" Enright's work. I said Tagle should not have spoken about that [very valuable] topic in THAT context at THAT moment to THOSE people. That was THE moment, THE context, THE audience for a focus on the healing value of a radical, total, absolute focus BY the hierarchy ON the hierarchy and ITS plans for complete and total responsibility for preventing future crimes by THAT hierarchy.

THAT is the "healing" contribution the world, Catholic and non-Catholic, is demanding. THAT is the healing contribution Tagle should have remained focused on in THAT moment in THAT context.

Thirty minutes to speak to the worldwide Roman Catholic Church; thirty minutes to speak FOR the Church; thirty minutes to speak to the Pope and the Cardinals; thirty minutes to speak to tens of thousands of victims and their families. Thirty minutes to speak to the future RCC. Thirty minutes to speak to the non-Catholic world. Thirty minutes to speak to history. Thirty minutes to do what the world has been begging the RCC hierarchy to do: tell the truth about what you did in God's name to God's people AND tell us what YOU are going to do to protect us from you in in the future.

And part of those precious moments ------- moments as precious as God's own breathe ------- were spent lecturing victims on good research.

It is beyond appalling. Shame on Cardinal Tagle and shame on America for its article on his talk.

Finally, Lisa, I am challenging your use of the word "attack". The Church and Pope are NOT being "attacked". It is being confronted with the world's righteous outrage and disgust and disgust and loss of respect and patience and tolerance. That is NOT an attack. The Roman Catholic Church is NOT being "attacked". The Roman Catholic Church is being held accountable and it is being told the truth and it is being told to FIX THIS NOW with no more self-protective nonsense. The Church is NOT being victimized. It is NOT being attacked. That language is unwise and it is dishonest and it will not serve the Church or God and it certainly will not serve the Church's victims.

Lisa M
3 weeks 6 days ago

J- I have not, nor would I agree that the Church should not be held to account. We all agree on that. I am simply arguing that at this point, it seems to me, no matter what they say, they are being criticized for, and most of what they have said is being ignored because WE are not doing what we fault them for not doing, which is listening. I have suggested nothing more than we should be open to the possibility they get it, and want to bring change. I do find, taking a 30 minute speech and focusing on a small aspect of it, and deciding it was neither the time nor the place to mention this is an example of looking for fault rather than seeing possible hope, which is really what we all want in the end, real concrete change.

J Brookbank
3 weeks 6 days ago

Lisa, I believe you agree the RCC needs to be held accountable. I believe you also want the RCC to be offered what it does not deserve. Sometimes the violation is so extreme, so repetitive, so flagrant, so destructive, so arrogant , so frankly sociopathic that all bridges are burned and only rebuilt when there is proof that the violations will not recur and past violations gave been fully admitted, owned and redressed. That, I believe, is the reality the RCC is facing. Its bridge to renewed relationship, respect and trust with much of the world is dependent on proof. Through choices of it's own, the RCC has lost the privilege of demanding that it be "listened to" or embraced in hope and patience and tolerance. It needs to act. Period. That is reality. The violation is that extraordinary, like it or not. This is the world's "enough is enough" moment with the RCC.

Last thought: if the RCC is ready to make this change, if it is capable of this change, if it believes this change is the only just and loving option, if it is committed to this change, it will make this change. If they DO "get it", the criticism will be fuel and motivation and signposts on the journey. If the hierarchy does't "get it", they'll say "Well, we tried. But all those damn laypeople did was criticize and attack. Nothing we could do was right. And they call themselves Christians!" If the hierarchy really "gets" the horror of its crimes, they know all the criticism in the world will never adequately describe or respond to that horror.

Lisa M
3 weeks 6 days ago

J- It is hard for me to argue that, I agree, with one exception: I believe this pope has inherited this mess, he is a blessing to our Church, and is suffering for the sins of our bishops. I genuinely believe with all my heart he is giving his all, and I think we should hope for success.

Jim Spangler
3 weeks 6 days ago

Sorry Lisa, this Pope continues to weaken the faith. Look what he has done in the last three months. Undercut the Chinese Catholics, which has led to arrest of Priest, destruction of Shrines, and Churches, put the deposit of faith on the same accord as Islam, and other cults, etc. I could fill a whole page, but it is not necessary to realize the Francis has been destructive for the Church.

Lisa M
3 weeks 6 days ago

Jim- I'm so sorry you have bought into the anti Francis camp. The reality is our Pope is the Head of the Catholic Church and to attack him is not in keeping with our faith. All I can say is the 'Great Accuser is in his glory. He has had the so called 'liberals' for 30 plus years, and now he is getting the 'conservatives' The battles within a once united pro life front grow, and slowly drag a good, faithful group further away from the Catholic Church, under the guise of being the 'faithful' ones. My heart truly breaks.

Adeolu Ademoyo
3 weeks 5 days ago

Mr. Jim Spangler,
Sex abuse in and out of the Church is evil, and with the prayer and active support of everyone the Church will defeat this evil.

However, I am putting it to you that with your baseless attacks on Pope Francis, you have taken a political and ideological position on the Church, Christ Church, our Church. Your un-warranted and irrational attacks have shown that you preferred a type of Pope. Mr. Jim Spangler, in the secular world, you have a political and constitutional right to your preference of Pope and to your ideological and political positions. But there is no place in the faith, in the Church of Christ, the Catholic Church for ideologies either of the right or of the left, conservative or liberal/progressive, right wing or left wing. We have one Body of Christ, and not two or more. Your attack is baseless and has nothing to do with faith, your attack has nothing to do with the love of God, your attack has nothing to do with Christianity and Catholicism. Your attack does not deepen or strengthen faith. It is divisive and goes against everything we know in the scripture-John 17:21. You are only projecting your ideological prejudices. And by the special grace of God the Catholic Church under the divine leadership of the Holy Father, the servant of all servants of Christ-Pope Francis, will survive this destructive political and ideological venom. God Bless you.

Jim Spangler
3 weeks 6 days ago

Sorry Lisa, this Pope continues to weaken the faith. Look what he has done in the last three months. Undercut the Chinese Catholics, which has led to arrest of Priest, destruction of Shrines, and Churches, put the deposit of faith on the same accord as Islam, and other cults, etc. I could fill a whole page, but it is not necessary to realize the Francis has been destructive for the Church.

Jim Spangler
3 weeks 6 days ago

Sorry Lisa, this Pope continues to weaken the faith. Look what he has done in the last three months. Undercut the Chinese Catholics, which has led to arrest of Priest, destruction of Shrines, and Churches, put the deposit of faith on the same accord as Islam, and other cults, etc. I could fill a whole page, but it is not necessary to realize the Francis has been destructive for the Church.

Jim Spangler
3 weeks 6 days ago

Sorry Lisa, this Pope continues to weaken the faith. Look what he has done in the last three months. Undercut the Chinese Catholics, which has led to arrest of Priest, destruction of Shrines, and Churches, put the deposit of faith on the same accord as Islam, and other cults, etc. I could fill a whole page, but it is not necessary to realize the Francis has been destructive for the Church.

Jim Spangler
3 weeks 6 days ago

Sorry Lisa, this Pope continues to weaken the faith. Look what he has done in the last three months. Undercut the Chinese Catholics, which has led to arrest of Priest, destruction of Shrines, and Churches, put the deposit of faith on the same accord as Islam, and other cults, etc. I could fill a whole page, but it is not necessary to realize the Francis has been destructive for the Church.

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