The Vatican statement expressed “shame and sorrow” which might have meant something had it come sooner and come from the Pope.
But it didn’t.
In fact, when the news broke internationally about the results of the Investigating Grand Jury of Pennsylvania and the gruesome details of the sexual abuse of boys and men in Catholic seminaries and churches, one might have expected the leader of the Catholic Church, the pope himself, Pope Francis, to respond quickly.
You might have expected that, but that isn’t what happened.
In fact, the immediate response from Rome was “No Comment.”
In and of itself, that was chilling and insulting and unbelievable.
Then, after a two-day pregnant pause, came a statement from the Vatican. But it wasn’t from the pope; it was from Vatican spokesman Greg Burke.
Apparently, Burke is the Vatican flack, the house PR guy who delivers the message that the top guy (the pope) isn’t ready to do himself.
It sounds so corporate but in reality, that is exactly what the Catholic Church has become … a big business, a corporation. It’s something many followers have believed for years, but this sexual abuse scandal has brought it all out into the open.
The Church is a corporate entity that uses media mechanisms to reduce the attention on the top guys who deserve all the pressure that the scandal can deliver.
Always remember the quote from Harry Truman, when the president said: “The buck stops here.” He was the top guy and was willing to take the praise or flack, depending on the situation.
Well, Pope Francis is the top guy in the Catholic Church; and like it or not, he is responsible for the filth that has come pouring out as a result of the Pennsylvania investigation. The buck stops with him.
The results of the investigation are brutal. It involved more than 300 named priests and more than 1000 abused children. It was a two-year Grand Jury Investigation of widespread sexual abuse of children in six dioceses and churches in Pennsylvania and a “systematic cover-up by senior Church officials in Pennsylvania and the Vatican.”
It’s hard to know how it could be more scathing, and yet it took two days for the Vatican to issue a statement; but even then, it wasn’t from the pope.
And as I write this, he still hasn’t issued a statement!
The closest was the statement from Greg Burke, who said “There are two words that can express the feeling faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow.”
The topper for me was the statement that “The victims should know that the Pope is on their side.”
What on earth does that mean????? How much more insulting and condescending could they be?
It has been known for decades there have been sexual crimes committed by priests and others in the Catholic Church system. There have been investigations and cover-ups and almost nothing has been done, despite several high-profile cases where there were convictions – think back to the Boston scandals of 2002.
Keep in mind, this problem is not relegated to the U.S. Church alone. Look at the recent scandals in Italy and Ireland and especially in Chile where the Pope himself has aided in what many have called a cover-up by Church officials.
Most recently is the scandalous behavior of the former Archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick. Just made public, the criminal activities of this man were known for decades by many within the hierarchy, yet nothing was done to stop him from his criminal sexual abuse of young boys and men. In fact, there were at least two secret settlements concerning allegations against McCarrick.
But he’s not the only one in the hierarchy; and every one of those men needs to be identified and charged with sexual crimes to face civil the penalties that are due them, preferably jail time.
Many of the victims of the abuse have spoken out. They need to be heard and the crimes committed against them need to be made public – and they need justice.
Clearly, they will not get it if the Church is in charge of the investigations. The Church had its chance, and the rush now to “make good” is too little too late.
The Catholic Church should not be protected from such charges. Just because a man is a “man of the cloth” should not protect him from the law.
In 2002, Michael S. Rose wrote a book entitled: “Goodbye, Good Men.” In it, he exposed the gay subculture in Catholic seminaries and the heterophobia that was used to drive heterosexual men away from the priesthood.
I read that book then and was stunned at the details of what was going on. At the time, Rose was pilloried by both conservatives and liberals, in and out of the Church, who refused to believe what he had written.
Given what we know now from Pennsylvania and other locales, he was absolutely right and perhaps even understated the dangers to the Church and lay Catholics.
Average Catholics who love their faith are furious about this and will take their anger out on the system. Many say they will stop donating money, or stop going to Mass, or take their children out of Catholic schools. Many say they are furious with the Pope.
There is a widespread concern that Pope Francis – who speaks out against capitalism, in favor of the environment, in favor of migrants and even against President Trump – is so removed from reality that he hasn’t spoken out against his fellow priests who are sexual deviants and child molesters.
How can such a man be the head of a Church?
Catholics await the answer.