Vatican adviser says ‘real reform,’ not spin, key to recovery from abuse crisis


January 31, 2019

By Inés San Martín

An adviser to the Vatican’s communication team said Monday that recovery from the clerical sexual abuse scandals isn’t a matter of devising a better PR strategy, but of acknowledging that real people have been hurt and delivering “real reform.”

“As Pope Francis says, this is not about ‘marketing or strategizing’ but about ‘the beating heart of the Gospel’,” said Kim Daniels, a veteran leader with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and various Catholic organizations, who was appointed an adviser to the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communications in 2016.

“Over these past months many have been tempted to stay angry, and with good reason,” Daniels said. “Every week another shoe seems to drop: we hear of another person – a flesh and-blood person, someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s friend – who has suffered abuse at the hands of a priest. We hear another story of cover-up or malfeasance or failure of leadership on the part of a bishop.”

“We hear more talk from everyone, but see little action from anyone,” she said.

Daniel’s remarks came during the sixth annual lecture of the Cardinal John Foley Chair of Social Communications and Homiletics at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia. It was the first time a woman was tasked with delivering the talk, with previous speakers including Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron of Los Angeles and Crux editor-in-chief, John L. Allen, Jr.

The Church’s ongoing crisis is not the product of poor public relations or a failure of “messaging,” Daniels said, but the fact that “Church leaders have hurt real people, and real reform is necessary.”

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