Archive for category Pope Francis

How are clergy sexual abuse survivors to grasp Pope Francis calling them “slanderers”?

Voice of Faithful often receives calls from survivors seeking assistance and comfort. We received one such call from a distraught survivor on the same day that news media reports circulated about Pope Francis calling survivors “slanderers” for accusing Bishop Juan Borros Madrid of Osorno, Chile, covering up their abuse.

The survivor had been part of the original settlement between his diocese and his abuser’s victims and says he now is being denied compensation for therapy that was part of the settlement. He must ask the diocese each time he wants to see a therapist and is being denied because the diocese apparently does not consider his therapy necessary.

He has spoken with several lawyers, presented his story to many local news outlets, sent letters to his bishop, and sent innumerable emails and letters and had many phone conversations with the diocese’s pastoral support office. He has exhausted all avenues through which he might expect to receive justice. Yet, he considers himself lucky because he has not turned to alcohol or drugs to dull his pain or suicide to end it, as other survivors have, and says he knows of some who will not deal with the diocese because of the agony of disbelief they would have to endure.

Stories like these remind us at VOTF that whatever words the hierarchy may use about clergy sexual abuse, real-life failures continue. That’s one reason why, having placed renewed hope for redress of the scandal in Pope Francis, his recent remarks during his visit to Chile about survivors being “slanderers” are so disconcerting.

Just before a Mass at the end of his visit to Chile, the pope is reported to have said, “The day someone brings me proof against Bishop Barros, then I will talk. But there is not one single piece of evidence. It is all slander. Is that clear?” Earlier in his visit to Chile, the pope had wept with survivors, admonished Chile’s clergy for abuse and betrayed trust, apologized for “irreparable damage” done by abuse, and sought forgiveness from victims. Returning to Rome, the Pope is reported to have said he regretted the language of his remarks but maintained his support for Bishop Barros.

Which message should survivors hear – the Pope weeping with them and admonishing Chile’s clergy for abuse and betrayal of trust, apologizing for “irreparable” damage done by abuse, and seeking forgiveness? Or, calling them “slanderers” and demanding some sort of proof other than their testimony?

Sadly, our survivor’s story jibes more with the pope who accuses survivors of slander than the pope who weeps for suffering. His experience seems a case study in everything the Church has done wrong in addressing the abuse scandal and its victims/survivors.

VOTF has attempted to listen and to promote healing throughout the 15 years since Boston’s clergy sexual abuse crisis initiated our movement. We will continue to do so – and to insist on accountability for the bishops who covered up abuse and who even today are denying full justice for survivors.

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Pope accuses sex abuse victims in Chile of slandering bishop / The New York Times

“But there is not one single piece of evidence. It is all slander. Is that clear?” (Pope Francis in The New York Times)

Pope Francis has accused abuse victims in Chile of slandering a bishop who they say protected a pedophile priest, upending his efforts to rehabilitate the Catholic Church’s reputation while visiting South America.

“Francis told reporters Thursday there was not a shred of evidence against Bishop Juan Barros Madrid, who victims of the Rev. Fernando Karadima, Chile’s most notorious priest, have accused of being complicit in his crimes.

“‘The day someone brings me proof against Bishop Barros, then I will talk,’ Francis said before celebrating Mass outside the northern Chilean city of Iquique. ‘But there is not one single piece of evidence. It is all slander. Is that clear?'”

By Pascale Bonnefoy and Austin Ramzy, The New York Times — Read more …

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Pope meets with abuse survivors, weeps with them in Chile / Associated Press

“But his meeting with abuse survivors and comments in his first speech of the day were what many Chileans, incensed by years of abuse scandal and cover-up, were waiting for.” (Associated Press)

“Pope Francis met on Tuesday (Jan. 16) with survivors of priests who sexually abused them, wept with them and apologized for the ‘irreparable damage’ they suffered, his spokesman said.

“The pontiff also acknowledged the ‘pain’ of priests who have been held collectively responsible for the crimes of a few, Vatican spokesman Greg Burke told reporters at the end of the day.

“Francis dove head-first into Chile’s sex abuse scandal on his first full day in Santiago that came amid unprecedented opposition to his visit …

But his meeting with abuse survivors and comments in his first speech of the day were what many Chileans, incensed by years of abuse scandal and cover-up, were waiting for.”

By Peter Prengaman and Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read more …

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Pope letter details concern over Chile bishop / Associated Press

“In his Jan. 31, 2015, letter, written in response to Chilean church leaders’ complaints about the Barros appointment, Francis revealed for the first time that he knew that the issue was controversial and that his ambassador in Chile had tried to find a way to contain the damage well before the case made headlines.” (Associated Press)

The Vatican was so concerned about the fallout from Chile’s most notorious pedophile priest that it planned to ask three Chilean bishops accused of knowing about his decades-long crimes to resign and take a year’s sabbatical — a revelation that comes just days before Pope Francis makes his first visit to Chile as pope.

“A confidential 2015 letter from Francis, obtained by The Associated Press, details the behind-the-scenes maneuvering by the Vatican and Chile’s bishops to deal with the prelates connected to the disgraced Rev. Fernando Karadima. And it reveals the bishops’ concern about Francis naming a Karadima protege, Bishop Juan Barros, to the helm of the diocese of Osorno — an appointment that roiled the diocese, with hundreds of priests and lay Catholics staging protests against him.

“Those protests are expected to greet Francis during his visit to Chile, which begins Monday (Jan. 15).

“Chile’s Catholic Church was thrown into crisis in 2010 when former parishioners publicly accused Karadima of sexually abusing them when they were minors, starting in the 1980s — accusations they had made years earlier to Chilean church leaders but that were ignored. The scandal grew as Chilean prosecutors and Vatican investigators took testimony from the victims, who accused Barros and other Karadima proteges of having witnessed the abuse and doing nothing about it.”

By Eva Vergara and Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read more …

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Clerical sex abuse disclosures skyrocket in Pope’s Argentina / Associated Press

“The allegations are part of a growing trend: While Pope Francis struggles to make good on his ‘zero tolerance’ pledge to fight clerical sex abuse worldwide, victims in his native Argentina are denouncing abuses in unprecedented numbers. An analysis by The Associated Press shows that the number of clerics publicly identified as alleged sexual abusers has increased dramatically in the last two years.” (The Associated Press)

Karen Maydana says she was 9 years old when the Rev. Carlos Jose fondled her at a church pew facing the altar. It was her first confession ahead of her first Holy Communion.

“She blames the trauma of that moment in 2004 for a teenage suicide attempt. And yet she never spoke about it publicly until this year. After hearing that two women who attended her school in the Argentine town of Caseros were allegedly abused by the same priest, she joined them as complainants in a case that in July led to his arrest for investigation of aggravated sexual abuse.

“‘Unfortunately, there are many of us. But speaking about it now also gives you strength to carry on,’ Maydana, 22, said. ‘I have a 9-year-old niece who’s receiving her Communion this year, and this is not going to happen to her.’

“The allegations are part of a growing trend: While Pope Francis struggles to make good on his ‘zero tolerance’ pledge to fight clerical sex abuse worldwide, victims in his native Argentina are denouncing abuses in unprecedented numbers. An analysis by The Associated Press shows that the number of clerics publicly identified as alleged sexual abusers has increased dramatically in the last two years.”

By Luis Andres Henao and Almudena Calatrava, The Associated Press — Read more …

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Listen to Families on ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ bishops and theologians say / America: The Jesuit Review

“‘Amoris Laetitia’ calls for church leaders to accompany Catholic families, learning from them along the way.” (America: The Jesuit Review)

While much of the debate over ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ the controversial 2016 document from Pope Francis about pastoral outreach to families, has focused on the question of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, more than three dozen cardinals, bishops and lay theologians gathered at Boston College this week to explore the broader implications of the letter—and to strategize ways to promote it in the United States.

“‘I would caution us that there are other dimensions of family life that the pope treats in ‘Amoris Laetitia’ that have to do not just with the moral questions but also the social life, the economic constraints and the difficulties that people face in raising families and raising children,’ Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago and a co-host of the conference, said on Oct. 5.

“‘We want to make sure that we keep in mind as pastors and theologians that we’re in touch with that reality as well, in terms of where God is revealing where God is working in the world,’ he continued. ‘What are some of the questions there that need to be looked at?'”

By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review — Read More …

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Pope admits Catholic Church waited too long to respond to clergy abuse crisis / National Catholic Reporter

“Maybe the old practice of moving people around, of not facing the problem, kept our consciousness asleep,” the pope suggested. “Thanks to God, the Lord sent prophetic men and women in the church … who got others involved and began this work to face the problem head-on.” (National Catholic Reporter)

Pope Francis has admitted that the Catholic Church waited too long before taking reports of clergy sexual abuse seriously, suggesting that the former practice of moving priests accused of abuse to new ministries instead of reporting them to authorities kept the church numb to the scope of the situation.

“In his first formal meeting Sept. 21 with the now three-year-old Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the pontiff also called ‘prophetic’ the men and women who urged the church for decades to face the problem.

“‘I know it has not been easy to start this work,’ the pope told the members of the commission in off-the-cuff remarks notable for their frankness. ‘You have had to swim against the current because there is a reality: the church has taken consciousness about these crimes in a delayed manner.’

”When the consciousness is delayed, the means for resolving the problem are delayed,’ said Francis. ‘I am aware of this difficulty. But it is a reality. I’ll say it so: We have come to this late.'”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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