Saturday, July 08, 2017

Sex Abuse Enabler-In-Chief?

Sex Abuse spotlight on Pope Francis
According to the conservative “The Catholic Thing”, the 
sex abuse spotlight has now been turned on “Pope Francis”.
Who is he to judge?

After the departure of one of his closest advisers in the hierarchy, Cardinal Pell (and following the departure as well of his CDF chief, Cardinal Müller, who failed to move more than 2,000 sex abuse cases through his department), the spotlight has turned by some on the potential sex abuse enabler-in-chief, “Pope Francis”.

“There is a deep disconnect between the pope’s words and his actions,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of the advocacy group Bishop Accountability.

Barrett Doyle was critical of the pope for keeping Pell in his post until now, despite knowledge of the allegations against him.

“The pope is not a reformer when it comes to the crisis,” she said. “He apologizes often and uses buzz phrases like ‘zero tolerance.’ But underneath he remains the minimizer and the defender of accused priests.”

Pell, it should be remembered, recently “fought a legal claim by an abuse victim, John Ellis, to discourage others from attempting the same”, while at the same time his Diocese in Sydney, Australia “repeatedly failed in its dealings with victims of child sexual abuse at the hands of clergy.”

[Pell’s Diocese] spent more than $1m fighting Ellis despite him asking for just a tenth of that amount in settlement, and put him through “distressing and unnecessary cross-examination” and threatened him with legal costs.

Pell had “accepted the advice of its lawyers to vigorously defend Mr Ellis’s claim.” The purpose was “to encourage other prospective plaintiffs not to litigate claims of child sexual abuse against the church.”

Continuing with the RNS story:

Robert Mickens, an American editor for the French Catholic magazine La Croix, said it was significant that Pell had stepped aside but he criticized the pope’s record on clerical abuse.

“Whether Pell specifically asked for a leave from his Vatican duties to return for the trial, or whether the pope ordered him to do so, the effect is the same. And it is a development from the past,” Mickens said, when the church would have defended Vatican churchmen.

But Mickens said Francis has never made the church’s sexual abuse crisis a priority of his administration.

“It took him more than a year after his election as bishop of Rome before he even mentioned it,” said Mickens, a longtime Vatican commentator. “I think a major reason for that is his experience as a bishop in Latin America, where the issue has not been dealt with openly or effectively.”

After his election, Francis established a Vatican panel for the protection of minors to change church practices and increase awareness about abuse and education in the church.

But survivor Peter Saunders was forced to take a leave of absence from the panel after scathing criticism of Pell. Irish survivor Marie Collins resigned in disgust in March over what she called “shameful” obstruction within the Vatican.

The charges against one of his closest advisors and the architect of his economic and administrative reforms of the Holy See is not only embarrassing for the pope but brings the church abuse scandal to his door.

Paddy Agnew, an Irish commentator who has followed the Vatican for 30 years, said Francis’ record on rooting out predators is mixed.

Agnew said Francis acted quickly to remove Polish Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, who was accused of sex crimes against minors in the Dominican Republic. Wesolowski died in 2015 before he was tried for child pornography.

“On the other hand, sex abuse survivors and lobbyists argue that Francis has been shamefully irresponsible in defending Chilean Bishop Juan Barros,” said Agnew.

Barros has been accused of covering up clerical abuse in Chile in the 1980s and 1990s.

There is no doubt there has been some change under Francis. He has spoken out many times against clerical sexual abuse and late last year he urged bishops around the world to adopt a “zero tolerance” policy.

“I would like us to renew our complete commitment to ensuring that these atrocities will no longer take place in our midst,” he said in a letter to them.

This month, the pope defrocked an Italian priest, Mauro Inzoli, who was convicted of child sex crimes by an Italian court a year ago.

But Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, had initially defrocked Inzoli in 2012 after he was first accused of abusing minors. Francis reversed that decision in 2014, ordering the priest to stay away from children before finally coming to the conclusion that the priest could no longer continue in his duties.

The U.S.-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests has urged the pope to send Pell home as soon as possible and hoped the Australian investigation would inspire other countries to do more.

“Sexual abuse thrives when it is allowed to flourish in secrecy,” said SNAP spokeswoman Joelle Casteix in a statement.

In the past, the Vatican, as a sovereign state in the heart of Rome, offered officials immunity from prosecution.

In the early 1980s, it refused an Italian request to hand over Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, an American who was wanted for questioning about the fraudulent bankruptcy of a private Italian bank.

And Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston escaped potential prosecution when he moved to Rome after the sex abuse scandal erupted in his diocese in 2002.

Pell, it appears, was not offered that option.

What’s a poor pope to think?


  1. I don't know much about Pell, but I don't understand this accusation against him

    "[Pell’s Diocese] spent more than $1m fighting Ellis despite him asking for just a tenth of that amount in settlement, and put him through “distressing and unnecessary cross-examination” and threatened him with legal costs."

    Well, if you are innocent, wouldn't you fight to clean your name? They are assuming he is guilty and then they accuse him of wasting money and distressing victims with "unnecessary" legal procedures (?)

    1. Maybe you're more likely to fight, using weapons that someone not in Pell's high position would have access to. He had more to lose. THe point is, there is more to that story, I simply cited the portion showing Pell's "spirit" as a Roman Catholic bishop. Just to cite a random news story on Pell's "Melbourne Response" (you can Google it):

      The Melbourne Response was a program set up by Cardinal Pell in late 1996 when he was Archbishop of Melbourne.

      It investigates allegations of child sexual abuse inflicted by people within the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.

      Complaints are assessed by an independent commissioner and referred on to a compensation panel.

      Victims can receive compensation up to $50,000.

      But Brown has discovered documents that reveal the Melbourne Response didn’t deserve the praise it has been given by Cardinal Pell.

      She has been following the ongoing hearings at the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, which addresses allegations of paedophilia within the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne.

      “The main point of the investigation is to look at some of the documents uncovered through the royal commission,” Brown said.

      “It shows the cynical approach and the contrast to how it’s been applauded by Cardinal Pell.

      “What the documents show is the Melbourne Response’s disregard for the families.”

    2. * Maybe you'll fight harder when you're in a position like Pell's, and you've got much more to lose.

    3. Hmm, my bad, I thought Pell was accused himself of abuses in that case so I found the quotation very odd.

    4. He's accused himself as well, but he's also the architect of a system that intentionally trashes victims.