Opinion: Shame on Pope Francis for casting doubt on clergy-abuse victims

Seattle Times

January 26, 2018

By Mary Dispenza

It’s time, Pope Francis, to stand up for survivors, take their stories to heart and take the right action.

In scripture we find the lines, “If someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.” Survivors of clerical sex abuse are tired of turning the other cheek — tired of lies and promises, especially by popes, who through the ages have formed commission after commission, held conference after conference, issued report after report, and made promise after promise.

Church leadership has repeatedly sought forgiveness for what Pope Francis recently described as the “irreparable damage” caused by priests. In the midst of Francis’ tears and apologies, the systemic evil of clergy sex abuse remains alive and largely undercover within the ranks of the Catholic Church.

Pope Francis is no different from popes who came before him. When it comes to his brother priests, Francis protects them at the cost of heaping pain and shame upon victims as was the case last week when he visited Chile. Francis did not receive a completely warm welcome there. Nor did he deserve one.

In 2015, Pope Francis appointed Chilean Bishop Juan Barros to head the diocese of Osorno in southern Chile. The pope knew that Barros had been accused of covering up the crimes of Father Fernando Karadima, a former Santiago priest accused of raping and molesting children.

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