In Ireland, Pope Francis Denounces the ‘Grave Scandal’ of Clerical Sex Abuse

Pope in Ireland
Associated Press

Pope Francis once more condemned clerical sex abuse Saturday, as well as the “failure of ecclesiastical authorities” to adequately address what he called “repellent crimes.”

“I cannot fail to acknowledge the grave scandal caused in Ireland by the abuse of young people by members of the Church charged with responsibility for their protection and education,” the pope said in his opening address at the World Meeting of Families in Dublin.

“The failure of ecclesiastical authorities – bishops, religious superiors, priests and others – adequately to address these repellent crimes has rightly given rise to outrage, and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community,” he said. “I myself share those sentiments.”

Earlier this week, Pope Francis issued a letter to “the people of God” acknowledging the recent sex abuse scandals and insisting that “the heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced.”

At the same time, the pope seemed to sidestep the root causes of the crisis as well as the concrete steps needed to overcome it.

While declaring 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 did not propose that those responsible for the present situation should be held to any accountability.

In fact, in his 2,000-word letter, the pope never mentioned the word “bishop” even once, despite the fact that recent revelations suggest complicity on the part of a significant 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 and even collective resignations by bishops, Francis mentioned no investigation, no inquiry, no apostolic visitation, and no accountability on the part of prelates.

Recent reports revealed 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, but the pope failed 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 investigation 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 avoided the thorny question of homosexuality in the clergy.

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