The apology of Pope Francis

Pope Francis apologises and asks for forgiveness

Pope Francis apologises and asks for forgiveness

I have been totally consumed with completing a uni assignment for the last few days and haven’t had time to write anything.  When my thoughts turned to writing earlier this afternoon, for the first time in weeks I drew an absolute blank – zip, nada, nothing.  So, I sent a silent request out to the Universe for a topic.

Several hours after this request, I sat down with my computer and caught up on the news I have missed while I have been researching and writing my ethics assignment – and what do you know? – the first news item I read has provided my topic for today’s post.

Pope Francis asks for forgiveness for child sex abuse by priests, says sanctions ‘must be imposed’

Hmm… with a headline like that, how could I not read the article?

To be clear, I am not a Catholic, nor do I know the Pope personally, or in any other capacity, however, I have read many articles expounding his virtues and generally indicating that he is a pretty decent bloke.  Now he has apologised for all those ‘evil’ deeds members of the Catholic ministry have enacted upon children, so that must mean he is a good man, mustn’t it?

Well, maybe not.

Yes, it is, theoretically, a good thing that he has done by apologising, however, I don’t personally feel that the apology goes quite far enough.  You see, although Pope Francis has said the Church “will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem and the sanctions that must be imposed” he has also indicated that those sanctions only relate to the priests who abused children.  He has made no mention of what will be done about the many, many more within the Church who protected those men and worked hard to discredit and discount the victims.

It is all well and good to impose ‘sanctions’ on the perpetrators, even though the form those ‘sanctions’ will take has not been elaborated, but while there are people within the Church willing to aid and abet “…the evil which some priests…” have done, then it’s a hollow apology.

Take Australia’s own Cardinal George Pell.  He is now Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy – a bloody good reward for his diligent efforts to cover up child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in Australia, don’t you think? 

Although there will be an endless number of people ‘out there’ who will be thinking something along the lines of, “Wow, wasn’t that a wonderful thing Pope Francis did, apologising to all those abused children?  They should all be feeling much better now that it’s all in the past, forgiven and forgotten” (believe me, there are people who really think like this), I find it hard to believe or accept such an apology when the people in his inner circle, those hand-picked by the Pope himself, have spent so much time and energy fighting to silence victims over the last few decades.

I can only hope and pray Pope Francis will ‘see the light’ and also ensure he weeds out all pro-child abuse supporters from ALL levels of the Catholic Church.


5 responses to “The apology of Pope Francis

  1. Kelly…my husband and I are no longer practicing Catholics and we refuse to go back to church until we feel that this issue is dealt with in a satisfactory manner. We will not aid and abet any member of the clergy or the church hierarchy in their quest to cover up and not take responsibility for their unthinkable crimes against young children…the most vulnerable members of our society. Several years ago, we wrote a letter to our local parish priest expressing our concerns and we were quickly dismissed as he refused to meet with us.

    You mentioned Cardinal George Pell who actually seemed to get rewarded for covering up sexual abuse cases against children and protecting the offending priests. This appears to be the case with Cardinal Law of the US, who was rewarded in much the same way by Pope Benedict’s predecessor. I, too, hope that the whole Catholic church hierarchy and each member of the clergy as well as the lay people will one day see “the light” when it comes to this unacceptable and reprehensible behavior of sexual child abuse! Silence can be seen as acquiescence…

    • Thank you Dolores. I have recently moved interstate, and now live in a rural area. Since I have been here I have seen a number of letters, documents and newsletters that have been written by local priests over the last ten years disputing and discrediting allegations of child sexual abuse made against priests both here and in the surrounding areas.

      Nothing upsets me more than people who fail to protect and support the victims of child sexual abuse – particularly when their abuse is supported by evidence. In my own experience, the people who know about the abuse and do nothing, or actually protect and support the perpetrators, can cause as much harm as the abuser themselves and so should be held accountable.

      I have to be honest, however, and say that the intensity of my anger may stem from my own lack of courage that kept me silent for so long and, as it turns out, meant that others were abused as a result. It is only recently that I have found my strength to stand up and speak out.

      I applaud, and thank, you and your husband for having the strength and courage to make your own stand in support of abused children – the world would be a much better and safer place if more people exhibited the same integrity.

  2. Hi Kelly, an interesting article indeed. How can we come to forgive such wrongs in our heart?

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