Papal commission on sex abuse targets bishops, seeks to convince skeptics

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Peter Saunders of Great Britain is a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Saunders, who was abused by priests as a boy, spoke at a Feb. 7 news conference at the Vatican on Pope Francis' efforts to hold bishops accountable for abusers.

RNS photo by David Gibson

Peter Saunders of Great Britain is a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Saunders, who was abused by priests as a boy, spoke at a Feb. 7 news conference at the Vatican on Pope Francis' efforts to hold bishops accountable for abusers.

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VATICAN CITY (RNS) Members will give Pope Francis recommendations on how to punish bishops who shield priests suspected of misconduct, one of several moves that are encouraging the two victims on the panel. But they also chided Francis for endorsing spanking.

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  • HRH

    Well, well, well! After more than a year they’ve finally had their first meeting? Great. Mebbe they’ll emerge, after a few decades of…….uh….deliberation, with a few watered down “recommendations.”

    What a joke. Except nobody’s laughing……except Sean & Co, pleased as punch they’ve managed to kick the can down the road yet again. (SOP from the generic manual for all corrupt multinationals.)

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  • Judy Jones

    It’s extremely disturbing that 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 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.
    Pope Francis doesn’t need a commission to advise him to fire and demote these church officials because he has shown us by his quick action to fire bishops for the elaborate spending habits. Yet he has not fired one bishop who conceals, enables, and covers up child sex crimes.
    Until there is severe punishment for those church officials nothing changes and children are very much at risk of being sexually abused today.
    Judy Jones, SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

  • Did the commission have any ideas for how bishops are supposed to assess uncorroborated accusations made 10, 15, or 30 years after the fact, sometthing public prosecutors seldom have to do??

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  • Fmr Cath

    Commenting on the last paragraph: “I think we need to talk to the pope about this issue because there are millions of children around the world who are physically beaten on a daily basis,” Saunders said. “It might start out as a light tap but the whole idea of hitting a child is about inflicting pain … Physical violence has no place in a modern day upbringing.”

    Since this is a “religious” news website, a look at what the Bible says about spanking/discipline should at least be considered…
    Christian parents are told to teach their children from infancy “the training and discipline and the counsel and admonition of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4, The Amplified Bible; 2 Timothy 3:15)
    Of course, children are children, and some are prone to be contrary, even wayward. (Genesis 8:21) What can parents do? “Foolishness is tied up with the heart of a boy; the rod of discipline is what will remove it far from him,” says the Bible. (Proverbs 22:15) Some view this as harsh treatment that is out-of-date. Actually, the Bible is against violence and abuse of any sort. The “rod,” though at times literal, represents parental authority that is administered firmly but lovingly and appropriately out of concern for the children’s eternal welfare.—Hebrews 12:7-11. Spanking a child is in NO WAY the same as daily beatings.

  • hrh

    It is NEVER okay to strike a child, no matter what your buy-bull says, after scores of translations and agenda-driven changes.

  • “Spanking a child is in NO WAY the same as daily beatings.” My mother had to finally stop my father from hitting us boys too hard with his spanking. I suffered fairly severe lower intestinal problems most of my life which may or may not have been related to the type of beatings we received for fairly innocuous breaches of my father’s will. It’s hard not to want to strike an uppity kid sometimes but we have to hold back because we’re just too big to get away with foul play picking on little people because they can’t fight back. Although some toddlers I read are shooting their parents..

    Pope Francis and all you Catholics who think its possible to create single sex colonies away from prying eyes and not see sexual aberration. The Melkite Catholics can marry and the Episcopalians too. Time to realize God made human beings quite sexual creatures, only outdone by bonobos and porpoises and rabbits..

  • mark

    • Dear
    Bishop Scicluna
    My name is Kevin Deignan I was a junior seminarian at Mirfield with Mark Murray
    . Mark has been in contact with you to seek help in closure for himself
    after the sexual abuse he endured at the hands of Romano Nardo , and the
    mental abuse he is still suffering through the inaction of the order. See blog:
    I am trying to give Mark and his family as much support as they need to get
    through these difficult times. To this end I decided to contact you.
    Mark has battled
    in isolation for over 20 yrs to reach closure for him and his
    family. He has been thwarted at
    every turn . Token gestures have been made
    to placate Mark.
    Protecting the order and giving sanctuary to
    the abuser! .
    telephoned you in Malta and you promised to make contact with the Pope about
    his situation and report back – nothing happened. Also, nothing
    happened, when Mark was waiting for a
    promised meeting/conversation with you when you were in Scotland last
    I have had little faith in the church in
    matters of abuse within it’s ranks . There has been a lack of transparency and
    a reluctance for independent investigation .
    Nardo, who is still alive, and protected, in the Comkboni Missionaries
    Mother House in Verona, exploited Mark and many others. Nardo would often
    refer to passages from the bible to justify his sexual abuse: the washing of
    Peter’s feet by Jesus would give him justification for intimate contact . The
    words ” suffer little children who come unto me ” would take on a
    completely different meaning .
    I believe that you can bring pressure on the Comboni Missionaries to have
    honest and meaningful dialogue with Mark.
    family need peace. Mark needs peace.
    Kevin Deignan

    letter was sent to Scicluna 10 months ago – still no reply. Mark Murray —
    o Father Romano Nardo, who is living in the Comboni Mother House, in Verona, has thwarted extradition by the British police because he is suffering from anxiety and stress — In his position – who would not be!!
    He is still a priest. see web site:

    Not only, is he still a priest – he is/was still around children and still preaching!!!

  • mark murray

    I contacted Bishop Scicluna. My friend contacted Bishop Scicluna about the sexual abuse we suffered at a junior seminary in Mirfield Yorkshire. I was told that he would speak to Pope Francis – that was over 10 months ago – we are still waiting.

  • Ken

    Talk about bull, look at what has happened to our society since parents have embraced this liberal-progressive-psychology insanity of allowing children to form their own morality.

    It’s fascinating that so many people that take the “don’t ever spank a child” religion, are actually raising Lord Of The Flies children. And the proof? One just needs to visit a modern-day juvenile jail or any mental health program and see the reality staring at them with hate in their unruly eyes.

    There’s a huge difference between abuse via liberalism and good parenting by establishing boundaries.

  • Greg

    Spare the rod, and spoil the child (Proverbs 13:24), wise proverb! But to the topic, the problem with the sex abuse issue goes way back. In the 1970’s and 1980’s gay men would go to the seminaries to hide. My sister knew many of these men, who later became Catholic priests. Sadly, most all of them are now dead, as they died from AIDS and other diseases. But many are still with us, and continue to hide in the Church, doing damage. So sadly, it is going to take the passing of a generation before it is all rooted out, and the problems drops back to the bare minimum. That said, this issue is throughout Protestantism too, only it is not reported by the leftist media because many of these churches have succumbed to the gay agenda (which the media loves to flaunt, and promote), so these churches remain protected in that regard (and of course many of these churches have been completely taken over by homosexual groups).

  • John Padinjarekutt (@drpsjohn)

    Holding the bishops, religious superiors and those in charge of juniors for sexual abuse by their subordinates, as proposed by the Vatican Commission, is a sound policy. Even in the civil society, in certain places, Senior Police inspectors are held responsible and punished for the misdemeanors committed by their subordinates. How much more alert and responsible should be those who are placed in authority among God’s people! All success to the Commission.
    John P. S.

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  • Jim

    time to stop talking and DO something.

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  • Concerned

    You are a clown if you think that anyone in the juvenile court system wasn’t beaten (hint: they all were) and that the mental health issues of some individuals isn’t related to their upbringing (hint: it is).

    As a school counselor, I have yet to meet a child who does not meet success who also was never hit/beaten.

    It’s shocking to me that I can’t hit my spouse (who can actually hit me back and defend themselves, and they can leave me), and I can’t hit my dog (who can in all likelihood maul me), but I can hit my child (who has no recourse – cannot defend him/herself and cannot get help since it is viewed as ok and legal). Baffling.

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