Clergy abuse victims are divided over Pope Francis’ offer to meet

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(RNS6-FEB24) Guest columnist David Clohessy is national director of SNAP, the Survivors 
Network of those Abused by Priests. See RNS-CLOHESSY-COLUMN, transmitted Feb. 24, 

(RNS6-FEB24) Guest columnist David Clohessy is national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. See RNS-CLOHESSY-COLUMN, transmitted Feb. 24, 2004.

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(RNS) Some victims of clergy sex abuse say Pope Francis' first-ever encounter with victims is simply stagecraft aimed at distracting the public from what they say are the pope’s larger failures to address the abuse crisis.

  • Judy Jones

    — Meeting with victims is one thing, but he already knows what to do to protect kids today.

    Quoted by the pope: ” We must go ahead with zero tolerance”
    What is Pope Francis doing about the bishops and cardinals who do not follow the “zero tolerance” policy.? The pope’s grandiose promises and words do not protect kids.
    Tragically the sex abuse and cover up within the church hierarchy throughout the world is still going on to this day. Cardinals and bishops are still not removing accused predator clergy, and they are still not reporting to law enforcement. Their so called “zero tolerance” policy is not being followed by the bishops who created it. They don’t have to, because there is no punishment to force the bishops to change their ways of protecting their power and the institution rather than protecting innocent children.

    Everyday the pope delays in taking significant actions to demote, fire and discipline the high ranking church officials who continue to protect the child predators, another child is being sexually abused within the archaic system. And Pope Francis needs to immediately disclose the names and the reasons that he claims 3 bishops are being investigated.

    Delays and silence are not an option anymore. It only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.
    Judy Jones, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests,

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  • I respect the good work organizations like SNAP and people like Ms Jones are doing. That said, it is possible to be an advocate for survivors and not agree with her assessment of Pope Francis’ administration.

    Frankly, it’s not good for Roman Catholicism to have a top-down pope. That tends to absolve the middle management (ie bishops) of responsibility. We hear from the bishops: the CDF tied our hands; canon law prevents, the police didn’t pay attention. There are a few thousand Catholic bishops around the world. These are the people who have to put their training in moral theology, pastoral ministry, and human administration to work. There is no parent, God, Mary, or the pope who is going to do it for them.

    Once bishops start holing one another accountable: that’s when I think we’ll have made true progress.

    And let’s face it: Pope Francis meeting abuse survivors will be a significant symbolic moment. I think advocates would do better to keep the pressure on bishops. Pope Francis isn’t going to allow the outrage of advocates to sway him.

  • RodneyI

    One abuse survivor said that meeting with Pope Benedict was “weird”.
    David Gibson reports on that response. However, there are others:

    “Joseph Magro, 38, one of eight victims of clerical abuse who met with Pope Benedict XVI during his recent visit to Malta. Magro said the meeting “was truly a most beautiful gift, after all this suffering, we all cried, even the Pope.”

    In the interview published by the Italian daily Il Giornale, Magro, who proudly showed the rosary he was given by the Holy Father in Malta, shared details about his meeting with the Pope.

    “I did not have any faith in priests. Now, after this moving experience, I have hope again. You people in Italy have a saint. Do you realize that? You have a saint,” he said, referring to Pope Benedict XVI.

    Later, explaining his discussion with the Holy Father, Magro said, “When I told him my name was Joseph, the Pope’s eyes grew wide and he said, ‘Joseph, like me!’ Then I asked him: ‘Why did the priest do this to me, why did he abuse me?’ He replied that he prays for me and we then prayed together.”

    Magro said he could see that the Pope “felt great sorrow. I could see he was suffering with me. I didn’t want to make him suffer, I didn’t tell him about the abuse that I suffered, but he wept with me, even though he had no fault in what happened.”

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  • Leo

    All organizations have elements of the self-serving, and that includes SNAP.
    All organizations hide the truth and cover things up, but this fact does not justify it. It is just human nature at its worst. Some organizations have just been more skilled than others at the deception.

  • Basil

    Mr. Flowerday:
    “Top-down” popes as you call them never existed, at least in this fashion, until now. The media is responsible for perhaps the most ultramontane papacies in the history of the Church. Everyone looks to the pope, and have been at least in this fashion, since John Paul II, who knew how to use the media.

    Technically every bishop is “pope” or “successor to Christ” in his diocese and the papacy is the symbol of unity and his role as supreme legislator is only to keep the churches unified.

    This is just altogether unfortunate that we now have an uber pope that was created not by Christ, the Scriptures, theology ancient, medieval, Renaissance, or modern, but the Protestant media, albeit unwittingly.

  • Basil

    I am not surprised these victims groups want nothing to do with the pope’s meeting.

    If they did, then it would be an acknowledgement that things are being recognized, addressed, and good, effective policies will follow or are already in place.

    IF this happens, Clohossey and Blaine and all the rest suddenly lose the meaning of their existence. They have pinned, it seems, their purpose and reason for living on this issue. Plus it garners them some publicity and social status. They will never be happy with ANY solution, or ANY action or policy because this would be tantamount to surrender, their lives no longer have meaning (or funding!).

    No big surprise.

  • mark

    Go to the meeting on one condition!!!! The pope answers questions, and abuse vicitims get to speak equal time. he wants to pontificate to the vicitim of his kid screwing crew.

  • I do hope the Church can bring some justice and balance here. Our world so needs the Church to be fully grounded in integrity.

  • Atheist Max


  • Atheist Max

    Criminal charges must be filed against the Vatican.
    The Pope must be included in the indictments. This is a grand coverup.
    No victims should go to see the Pope without bringing their lawyers.

    This is not a game. The Pope heads a criminal organization.
    And like many of the pedophiles themselves, the Pope is delusional and in denial about the severity of what they have done.

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