Letter from Rome
By Robert Mickens
March 16, 2016
The pandemic of clergy sex abuse of children and adolescents has not abated. But you wouldn’t know that by reading some of the statements coming out of the Holy See Press Office lately. You’d think the Church has already rounded the corner on this issue and all it needs to do now is continue reinforcing a basically sound program and various protocols it’s implemented over the past several years.
The press office director, Fr. Federico Lombardi SJ, must have been instructed to at least defend the church’s cardinals any time one of them is accused of covering up abuse or shuffling around known priest abusers.
Back on March 4 he issued a long statement on Vatican Radio following the four nights of testimony that Cardinal George Pell gave from Rome via Internet to Australia’s Royal Commission on institutional responses to the sexual abuse of minors. At times it sounded bitter and defensive.
Among other things it offered praise for the cardinal’s testimony, calling it “dignified and coherent,” and for his willingness to meet victims who had come to Rome from Australia to be present at his hearing. Now Fr. Lombardi has rushed to the defense of French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin who is under intense scrutiny for allowing at least two, but most likely three and perhaps even more priests with histories of abusing minors to remain in ministry.