Vatican Admits Still "Much to Do" to Stop Paedophile Priests
March 4, 2016
The Vatican on Friday defended the Catholic Church's action on paedophile priests, saying popes Francis and Benedict XVI had "courageously" tackled the issue but admitted there was still much to be done in many countries.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said "sensationalism" surrounding the Oscar-winning film "Spotlight" and hearings into an alleged cover-up of abuse by Cardinal George Pell in Rome had given the public the wrong impression.
The media furore surrounding both events "meant that most people, particularly those less well informed or with a short memory, think the Church has done nothing or very little to answer to these horrible tragedies".
"An objective consideration shows it is not true," he said in a statement, listing steps taken by the Church to meet with victims, draw up guidelines for bishops and update canonical procedures and laws.
Both Francis and his predecessor Benedict have shown a "courageous commitment... to tackling the crisis in several countries, such as the United States, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands," he said in a statement.
But while "cases of abuse have become very rare" in those countries and mostly date to previous decades, "in other countries, usually because of cultural situations which are very different and characterised by silence, there is still much to do".
"There is resistance and there are difficulties, but the path to follow has become clearer," he said.
Some abuse victims insist the Vatican still has not gone far enough to protect children even in the West - where intense media coverage of paedophile priests has led to greater scrutiny of church practices.
'Purifying the memory'
They also accuse it of ducking out of providing proper financial compensation in a bid to protect its assets.
"Spotlight," which chronicles The Boston Globe's investigation into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and institutional efforts to cover up the crimes, won the Oscar for best picture last month.
Much of what went on in Boston has been compared to abuse committed in the Australian town of Ballarat and the city of Melbourne in the 1970s and 1980s.
The Vatican defended Australian Pell, the pope's powerful finance minister, despite accusations by victims of sex abuse that he protected paedophile priests in his hometown of Ballarat.
Pell admitted this week he "should have done more" to follow-up on claims that a priest was abusing boys, as he gave evidence via videolink to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney.