Roman Catholic Church Sex Abuse Survivors Slam Pope Francis for Inaction
By R. Siva Kumar
April 11, 2016
|Roman Catholic Church Sex Abuse Survivors Slam Pope Francis For Inaction|
David Clohessy was lured to a Missouri trip and abused by a Roman Catholic priest. It was only after decades that he became the director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.
Last Friday morning, he got frustrated after reading Pope Francis' 264-page document---"Amoris Laetitia," or "The Joy of Love,"---asking church leaders to open their arms in welcome to gay, lesbian, divorced or remarried followers, but not mentioning clergy abuse survivors.
The group is very upset over the Pope's inaction. The members point out that Pope Francis tackles everything from climate change to Cuban diplomacy, but does not mention sex crimes and cover-ups in the church.
"It's very tough for us to understand how seemingly every other issue takes precedence - especially because on everything else, the pope really is powerless," said Clohessy, who lives in St. Louis. "But instead of taking real action that makes a real difference, he's content to do, and, in fact is masterful at, these meaningless feel-good gestures that are essentially public relations maneuvers."
"Amoris Laetitia" mentions the word "abuse" just six times, and does not refer to the sex scandal in the Catholic Church at all. The Pope merely mentions that "the sexual abuse of children is all the more scandalous when it occurs in places where they ought to be most safe, particularly in families, schools, communities and Christian institutions."
There is a record of more than 17,200 Americans who were abused by more than 6,400 clerics from 1950 to 2013, according to information gathered by BishopAccountability.org, which is a website that keeps a record of the church's sexual misconduct.
The Pope condemned the abusers and officials who protected them in Rome, 2014, and also met victims in the U.S. last fall, mentioning his regret "that some bishops failed in their responsibility to protect children," pledging to "follow the path of truth wherever it may lead."
Still, Clohessy points out that the abusing priests are still in "good standing" with the church, even though the pope created a commission and suggested that a Vatican tribunal should be set up to try the suspects.
He feels that the abusers can be easily removed by the Pope. "The irony is that with clergy sex abuse there's no theological or even policy changes that are needed at all," Clohessy said.
He believes that it could help to enhance church membership, which fell by 3 million since 2007.
"He and other church officials seem willing to write documents and tweak policies and strike desperately welcoming poses hoping to keep and regain questioning Catholics when, perhaps in one fell swoop, he could take practical steps to safeguard kids that would be much more effective at reassuring and winning back those who have left or are considering leaving," Clohessy said.