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Pope Francis Addresses Sex Abuse, Sidesteps Root Causes and Accountability

Pope Francis acknowledged failings in the Catholic Church over the child abuse scandal
AFP/Filippo MONTEFORTE

In a gesture destined to anger more than console, Pope Francis has issued a letter to “the people of God” acknowledging the recent sex abuse scandals but ignoring the root causes of the crisis as well as the concrete steps needed to overcome it.

While insisting that “no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated,” the pope does not propose that those responsible for the present situation should be held to any accountability.

Remarkably, in his 2,000-word letter, the pope fails to mention the word “bishop” even once, despite the fact that recent revelations suggest complicity on the part of an indeterminate number of prelates who allowed such abuse to continue in their dioceses.

As Catholic lay people have been calling for a full-scale investigation into U.S. clerical sex abuse in order to truly “drain the swamp,” Pope Francis mentions no investigation, no inquiry, no apostolic visitation, and no accountability on the part of bishops.

With recent reports of a decades-long trail of sexual abuse and misconduct by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick that accompanied his rise from priest to bishop to archbishop to cardinal, the pope fails to address the question of who knew of his activities and who benefitted from his patronage, despite the fact that innumerable Catholics have been calling for an inquiry into these fundamental questions.

Moreover, while a number of prelates, priests, and laypeople have recently begun insisting on the need for straightforward and honest recognition of the extensive “homosexual subculture” that currently exists among bishops and clergy and that lies at the root of the abuse crisis, Pope Francis completely sidesteps the question of homosexuality in the clergy.

This past week, a number of Catholics have stepped forward to decry the widespread and tacitly accepted homosexual activity of priests and prelates that coincided with networks of abuse, whose victims were overwhelmingly male.

Cardinal Raymond Burke, for instance, said last Thursday that “there needs to be an open recognition that we have a very grave problem of a homosexual culture in the Church, especially among the clergy and the hierarchy, that needs to be addressed honestly and efficaciously.”

The former head of the church’s equivalent of the Supreme Court said it was already “clear after the studies following the 2002 sexual abuse crisis that most of the acts of abuse were in fact homosexual acts committed with adolescent young men.”

“There was a studied attempt to either overlook or to deny this,” he said, referring to the mainstream media cover-up of the homosexual nature of the abuse as well as such denial within the church itself.

“Now it seems clear in light of these recent terrible scandals that indeed there is a homosexual culture, not only among the clergy but even within the hierarchy, which needs to be purified at the root,” Burke said.

Similarly, on Saturday Bishop Robert C. Morlino of Madison, WI, said that it is “time to admit that there is a homosexual subculture within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that is wreaking great devastation in the vineyard of the Lord.”

To be clear, “we are talking about deviant sexual — almost exclusively homosexual — acts by clerics,” he said, referring to a recent report from a Pennsylvania grand jury as well as scandals involving a Honduran seminary, Chilean clergy and bishops, and a prominent U.S. cardinal.

“We’re also talking about homosexual propositions and abuses against seminarians and young priests by powerful priests, bishops, and cardinals,” Bishop Morlino wrote. “We are talking about acts and actions which are not only in violation of the sacred promises made by some, in short, sacrilege, but also are in violation of the natural moral law for all.”

“To call it anything else would be deceitful and would only ignore the problem further,” he said.

In spite of these and many other appeals to acknowledge the root causes of the sex abuse crisis and the prevailing homosexual subculture within the Church, Pope Francis seems to be turning a blind eye to the problem.

Some have suggested that since the Jesuit order to which Francis belongs is so rife with homosexuality, it would be practically impossible for the pope to address the issue in any serious way without compromising his own order.

Furthermore, the pope’s right-hand man, Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, has himself been embroiled in a series of scandals involving financial mismanagement and embezzlement of funds, protecting a sexually abusive bishop, and covering up a homosexual “epidemic” in his diocesan seminary.

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