The Vatican released a statement expressing “shame and sorrow” Thursday about the hundreds of predator priests uncovered in Pennsylvania. This statement comes after two days of silence and offers no quote from Pope Francis.
“There are two words that can express the feelings faced with these horrible crimes: shame and sorrow,” the statement reads. “The Holy See treats with great seriousness the work of the Investigating Grand Jury of Pennsylvania… The Holy See condemns unequivocally the sexual abuse of minors.”
“Victims should know that the Pope is on their side. Those who have suffered are his priority, and the Church wants to listen to them to root out this tragic horror that destroys the lives of the innocent.”
In the middle of these platitudes, comes this: “By finding almost no cases after 2002, the Grand Jury’s conclusions are consistent with previous studies showing that Catholic Church reforms in the United States drastically reduced the incidence of clergy child abuse.”
This is what stood out to me… “Almost no cases after 2002.”
We are talking about the kind of sexual abuse against children that would make Harvey Weinstein blush and the Church is using the words “almost no” in its defense.
Let’s read that another way…
Ford Motor: “Almost no Ford Pintos exploded and killed their occupants after 2002.”
The FBI: “Almost no FBI agents were involved in manipulating presidential elections after 2002.”
The local mosque: “Almost none of our Imams sought to radicalize terrorists after 2002.”
CNN: “Almost none of our reporters spread fake news after 2002.”
the Catholic Church: “Almost no children were raped by our priests after 2002.”
And then there is the whole “fool me once” aspect of all this.
These are the kinds of statements we heard 15 years ago when the first child abuse scandal exploded on the Church, and I am afraid empty words are just not good enough anymore.
I joined the Church in 2008 in large part because I was assured this was behind us, assured an unforgivable blot on the 2,000-year-old institution had been eradicated, assured this would not and could not happen ever again. And yet here we are in 2018 with the discovery that the coverup has been ongoing and that the standard when it comes to predatory priests raping children is “almost no[ne].”
Just as unacceptably is this sentence in the Vatican’s statement, “The Holy See also wants to underscore the need to comply with the civil law, including mandatory child abuse reporting requirements.”
You have child rapists in your own home and a gangster mentality protecting those child rapists… How can you not be proactive? How can you not be calling on every attorney general in all 50 states to launch investigations — with the FULL cooperation of the church — in all 50 states? How can you not be demanding these “secret archives” (incredibly, that was the Pennsylvania Church’s term for the secret files detailing the abuse and cover-ups) be released to the public in very diocese, not only here in America but throughout the world?
As a practicing Catholic, someone who loved the Church, who joined the Church as a 42-year-old adult, who was proud to call himself a Roman Catholic, I am horrified, not only by this report (which I intend to read in full), but by a powerful institution’s passive response to an unspeakable evil breeding within its own home.
And how are we to define this passiveness as something other than it is own kind of evil?