Pope to priestly sex abusers: Turn yourselves in

Pope Francis attends the traditional greetings to the Roman Curia at the Vatican on Dec. 21, 2018. (Filippo Monteforte/Pool Photo via AP)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis vowed Friday that the Catholic Church will “never again” cover up clergy sex abuse and demanded that priests who have raped and molested children turn themselves in.

Francis dedicated his annual Christmas speech to the Vatican bureaucracy to abuse, evidence that a year of devastating revelations of sexual misconduct and cover-up has shaken his papacy and caused a crisis of confidence in the Catholic hierarchy.

Francis acknowledged that the church in the past had failed to treat the problem seriously, blaming leaders who out of inexperience or short-sightedness acted “irresponsibly” by refusing to believe victims. But he vowed that going forward the church would “never again” cover up or dismiss cases.

“Let it be clear that before these abominations the church will spare no effort to do all that is necessary to bring to justice whosoever has committed such crimes,” he said.

Francis urged victims to come forward, thanked the media for giving them a voice and issued a stark warning to abusers: “Convert and hand yourself over to human justice, and prepare for divine justice.”

Francis’ remarks capped a dreadful year for the Catholic Church, one that began with his own botched handling of a sprawling sex abuse scandal in Chile and ended with the U.S. hierarchy in a free-fall of credibility as state prosecutors have begun uncovering decades of cover-up.

Francis has summoned church leaders from around the globe for a February abuse prevention summit, in an indication that he has come to realize that the problem is far greater and far more global than he had understood at the start of his pontificate five years ago.

Francis’ demand that abusers turn themselves in to face “human justice” was significant, and echoed his previous demands for mafia bosses and corrupt politicians to convert.

Vatican guidelines currently only call for bishops to report priestly abusers to police in those countries where civil law requires it — a technicality that survivors and their advocates have long blasted as a convenient dodge to the church’s moral obligation to protect children regardless of what the law requires.

Francis warned the Vatican bureaucrats who run the 1.2 billion strong Church that the scandal now undermines the credibility of the entire Catholic enterprise and that from now on the church and all its pastors must embark on a continuous path of purification.

He prayed for help so that the Church can discern true cases from false ones, and accusations from slander.

“This is no easy task, since the guilty are capable of skillfully covering their tracks,” and choosing victims who will keep silent.

It was perhaps a veiled reference to ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the disgraced retired archbishop of Washington who is now facing a canonical trial on allegations he groped a teenage altar boy in the 1970s.

The McCarrick revelations have fueled the crisis in confidence in the U.S. and Vatican hierarchy since it was apparently an open secret that he slept with seminarians but nevertheless was allowed to rise to the heights of church power.

Francis’ reference to the difficulty in distinguishing allegation from slander was also perhaps a reference to his own failure to believe Chilean victims of a notorious predator priest.

During Francis’ disastrous trip to Chile in January, he dismissed survivors’ allegations of cover-up as “slander,” sparking outrage in Chile and beyond. Francis eventually did an about-face, apologized to the victims and acknowledged he had made “grave errors in judgment” about the case.

Going forward, he urged those who have been victims of sexual abuse, abuse of power and abuse of conscience to speak out.

“The church asks that people not be silent, but bring it objectively to light, since the greater scandal in this matter is that of cloaking the truth,” he said.

The cardinals and bishops of the Curia listened attentively, including the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who has long been blamed for the Vatican’s refusal to acknowledge the depth of the problem during the quarter-century pontificate of St. John Paul II.

Sodano, who was John Paul’s deputy, made no mention of the scandal that has convulsed the church this year. In his introductory remarks Friday to the pope, he instead thanked Francis for his pastoral visits in Rome, Italy and around the world, for having canonized Pope Paul VI and for having issued a new teaching document.

In previous years, Francis has used his Christmas greetings to issue blistering criticisms of the failings of the Curia, accusing them of suffering from “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and taking part in the “terrorism of gossip.”

His remarks this year had a more global outlook, noting that all around there are priests who “without batting an eye” are ready to betray all that the church stands for and enter into a “web of corruption” by abusing those in their care.

“Often behind their boundless amiability, impeccably activity and angelic faces, they shamelessly conceal a vicious wolf ready to devour innocent souls,” he said.

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Nicole Winfield


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  • “”Never again” cover up clergy sex abuse .. “?

    One must stop doing so before ‘never again’ is an option. The institutional church and its representatives (bishops) are still doing so.

  • The New York Times this morning has a story about Fr. Donald Timone of the Archdiocese of New York. The Archdiocese has paid out two settlements to abuse victims of Timone. He is still saying Mass.

    Francis’ words mean nothing.

  • Here is the article:


    The article spins a settlement into a conviction, which it was not.

    There is another side to this. Note the presenter:


    and this:


    What the article calls a “bureaucratic technicality” is not.

    Under Canon Law he is entitled to due process, a presumption of innocence, and a fair hearing – none of which have taken place.

    The article appears to have been planted by Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability{DOT}org, to bootstrap some publicity for her outfit off the Illinois headlines.

  • Francis forgot to mention that his church has been spreading false news for the last 2000 years to include the Easter claims. Of course to admit that would put an end to the RCC and the rest of Christianity which would be a good thing for 21st century humanity.

  • if they all turned themselves in would there be enough to run the church and who is going to pay for all the millions in court time and prison costs such a holy church we can’t have that now could we.maybe we should close our eyes and pretend to pray till it blows over.

  • You people had better turn yourselves in, because we are done covering up for you like we have for the past few centuries.

    And if you don’t turn yourselves in, well, we told you to, didn’t we?

  • It is too laugh at the lame reasons why this crisis has not been stop. I’m tired of reading they were inexperienced and all the other falderal. WHAT IS SO DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND THAT ANY SEXUAL INTERACTION WITH CHILDREN IS NOT ONLY WRONG BUT EVIL!!! The church is run by idiots who have no business being where they are.

  • Is this not a step forward? At least the holy father is off of global warming and onto something that really matters.
    It will be interesting to see how the purification stage plays out.

  • My point was that it is highly unlikely that there will be any purification, especially as long as it is considered to be some sort of “homosexual” problem rather than a “Catholic institutional” problem.

    I will point out to you what I have pointed out before. For decades, the Boy Scouts banned any gay people from participating in any capacity. For decades, they pretty much insisted that every scoutmaster be heterosexuallymarried in order to establish heterosexual credibility. For decades, they had a sexual molestation problem, Which they covered up in exactly the same manner as the Roman Catholic Church, and also attempted to scapegoat people like me, innocent of anything, with their institutional abuse problem. All of those lies and scapegoating are now coming to fruition, as they face The prospect of bankruptcy due to all of the molestation lawsuits.

    Likewise, I find it simply impossible to believe that lots and lots and lots of people knew all about Theodore McCarrick, and yet not one person said diddly about it. Likewise, the 500 priests accused in Illinois, or the 300 priests in 6 Pennsylvania diosces,or Wesoslawski in the DR, or the Guamanian Archbishop, or anyone else. People knew and they said nothing.

    If you— I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt and make it a generic you— want to continue to make it about people like me instead of an institutional problem of centuries’ duration— I can’t stop you. But as the Buddha noted, bad actions produce bad consequences.

  • 80+% male-on-male statistics make it a “homosexual” problem.

    Does “… and also attempted to scapegoat people like me …” tell us you were a scoutmaster?

    In fact rather than “ … not one person said diddly about it”, lots of persons said diddly about it.

    The reasons why nothing was done make it even more imperative that the Queer Clique be expunged from the Church.

  • Actually the data seems to support the conclusion that there was precipitous drop in cases circa 2000 or thereabouts.

  • “80+% male-on-male statistics make it a “homosexual” problem.”

    Hmmm…………so 1+1= 3???

    And you’re an industrial engineer??????????????

  • Joe,

    Here is your wake-up call (one of many). Call it a Mythmas Gift:

    The Great Kibosh of All Religions-

    Putting the kibosh on all religion in less than ten seconds: Priceless !!!

    As far as one knows or can tell, there was no Abraham i.e. the foundations of
    Judaism, Christianity and Islam are non-existent.

    As far as one knows or cantell, there was no Moses i.e the pillars of Judaism,
    Christianity and Islam have no strength of purpose.

    There was no Gabriel i.e. Islam fails as a religion. Christianity partially fails.

    There was no Easter i.e. Christianity completely fails as a religion.

    There was no Moroni i.e. Mormonism is nothing more than a business cult.

    Sacred/revered cows, monkey gods, castes, reincarnations and therefore Hinduism fails as a religion.

    Fat Buddhas here, skinny Buddhas there, reincarnated/reborn Buddhas everywhere makes for a no on

    A constant cycle of reincarnation until enlightenment is reached and belief that various beings
    (angels?, tinkerbells? etc) exist that we, as mortals, cannot comprehend makes for a no on Sikhism.

    Added details available upon written request.

    A quick search will put the kibosh on any other groups calling themselves a

    e.g. Taoism

    “The origins of Taoism are unclear. Traditionally, Lao-tzu who lived in the sixth
    century is regarded as its founder. Its early philosophic foundations and its
    later beliefs and rituals are two completely different ways of life. Today
    (1982) Taoism claims 31,286,000 followers.

    Legend says that Lao-tzu was immaculately conceived by a shooting star; carried in his
    mother’s womb for eighty-two years; and born a full grown wise old man. “

  • Oh it’s both, and the same. It’s a homosexual problem on two levels: perpetrators and then as the creeping geezers age, covering up for the younger homosexuals.

  • Inexperience or short-sightedness are the reasons for decades of cover-ups on every continent that has a RCC dioceses?

  • Sure, that must be it. Endemic corruption in the church, passed down from father to father because they all belong to the same club.

    Desperation isn’t pretty, but believe what you wish.

  • Remember Jesus’s teaching about bad leaven.

    It doesn’t take that much to screw up the whole batch.

    In the business/management world, it’s called “the power of the low perforner”.

    Applied to the’s not the St John Vianney that motivates other priests who want to be saints…it’s the buggering priests who have the most influence.

    The struggling priests asks himself the reasonable question…why should I struggle for holiness, when Fr James Martin can prance about the globe singing the praise of buggery.

    This is what deviant clerics and their modernist views (and their abhorrent sexual practices) can do to the Church.

    A few buggerists left to bugger, and before you know it you have all sorts of corruption and coverups…..bathhouses, porn, abusers, predators, buggering each other in cars in plane view.

    Doesn’t take long. A filthy lot.

  • I see. So once again, religion makes you moral, except when it doesn’t. And gay people everywhere are responsible for the failure of the catholic priesthood to be moral, Holy, and celibate for the past thousand years. In fact, we are such powerful beings that heterosexual men become child predators, pretty much anything that moves, bishops cover up everything, the pope looks the other way, as do the legions of Heterosexuals who knew all about the child molestation, the priests with mistresses, the sexual abuse of seminarians. It goes on and on and on for centuries, and those EEEEEEEvil gays are all at fault. And god’s own church is just the innocent victim of it all. In fact, god is so weak in this matter that even he couldn’t prevent the corrruption.

    Of course. That must be it. Because it would never occur to likes of you to ask the simple question: WHAT IS IT ABOUT YOUR CHURCH THAT SEEMS TO INVITE AND FOSTER ALL OF THIS.

    I see a sickness, all righty.

  • “I see.”


    “So once again, religion makes you moral, except when it doesn’t.”

    He did not write, and the particular Church being discussed does not teach, that “religion makes you moral”.

    “And gay people everywhere are responsible for the failure of the catholic priesthood to be moral, Holy, and celibate for the past thousand years.”

    He did not write, nor has anyone alleged, “gay people everywhere” are responsible. That is your own paranoid over-the-top take on the issue.

    What he alleges, and many agree with, is that a Vidkun Quisling-like clique of individuals who practiced and advocated immoral behavior prohibited by their vows and the teaching of the church they nominally adhered to promoted that immoral behavior in a variety of ways to the detriment of both the church and many of those who trusted these Quislings.

    “In fact, we are such powerful beings that heterosexual men become child predators …”.

    No, but you sure are LOUD.

    “I see a sickness, all righty.”

    Every time you look in the mirror.

  • fact #1 is we will pay for there sins .prison time ,court time ,investigation time. fact # 2 eyes have been closed for many years

  • hope you have better things to pray for i surley will put better use to my prayers opps sorry misspled too

  • Morality is conformance with the will of God.

    Buggering and buggery in general is against the will of God.

  • So everyone who is not a Catholic, or at least a Christian, is by definition immoral?

    let’s propose a hypothetical. God tells you, without the shadow of a doubt that it is god, to rape a woman. Or he tells you to slay your enemies. He certainly said that to the ancient Israelites.

    Would you do it?

  • “So everyone who is not a Catholic, or at least a Christian, is by definition immoral?”

    He did not write that.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church notes:

    “847 This affirmation (outside the church there is no salvation) is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:”

    “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.”

  • Anyone who buggers is doing an immoral act; that’s plain on several levels.

    Let’s stay in the real world.

  • You’ve never explained how you define “moral” beyond you know i when you see it, speaking of not wanting to answer that question.

  • I’m not here to answer your questions, whatever they are.

    I’m here to pursue the true and the good, and to spend myself letting others know that there is a true and good, and it’s not be found in buggery and its discontented side pursuits that you defend.

  • In short, you can’t answer the question. Because you know that either a yes or a no answer doesn’t paint you in the best light. Either disobedient to your god or an immoral rapist. As I always like to say, scratch a moralizing moral absolutist, and you’ll find a moral relativist just itching to get it.

    Of course there is a true and a good, but from what I have seen, it isn’t you.

    Here’s my atheist answer. if any being claiming to be a godtold me to hurt another human being, I would know by that alone that this god was no god. But that’s why I have no belief in any gods, because of the actions and beliefs of people who claim to know there is one, or two, or a thousand of them.

  • To be honest, your question seemed rather oblique to the “discussion” about buggery….and a “readying” of yours to self-advertize (which it turned out was true, given this inanity “As I always like to say, scratch a moralizing moral absolutist, and you’ll find a moral relativist just itching to get it.”).

    But to return to your posted question which was “So everyone who is not a Catholic, or at least a Christian, is by definition immoral?”

    The answer is: No. It depends on what their will assents to during their life.

  • To help you atheist, you might want to try to walk the same ground that CS Lewis did before he became a Christian.

    He was far brighter and humbler than you are, so you won’t be able to stay his path for long.

    But he pointed out that the idea and exemplars of “good” are strikingly commmon across the cultures, Christian, Jewish, and even most pagan.

    He thought…how odd. Where do these repeatable notions of the good come from?

    They must, he continued, come from “outside of us”, because no human would self-impose some of these notions of good upon themselves, given our tendencies to self-satisfy ourselves with greed, sensuality, etc.

    His argument was far more developed and compelling than I care to spend the time here summarizing for you, given the reasons above.

    But I’ll leave you with the point that your own post and snide remarks prove his point.

    Buggerists l’ll repeat are engaging in immoral behavior.

  • I read all of Lewis, every book of his, except allegory of love, which I simply could not get through. I also read every book of his Inkling companions, including Tolkien, and Williams, and several of green and Coghill. He almost convinced me to become a Christian. Almost.

    And the reason he eventually failed with me were all of his deficiencies of knowledge and logic, such as sociology, anthropology, evolution, psychology. Because there are plenty of explanations, grounded in science, that do not boil down to “I don’t know the answer. So it must be god.” And plenty of gods besides the Christian god.

    And just because you are a slave to YOUR tendencies of greed and sensuality, and need god to tell you what to do, does not mean the rest of us do.

    And you still cannot answer the question. But I do love buggerist. So you get a point—just the one— for that.

  • You said that only people who follow your god’s commandments are moral. I was just disagreing with you, or maybe agreeing with you— who knows?—because lots of people don’t follow your god’s commandments, such as believe that your god is the only one, or that you just believe in that god to be saved.

    By your own definition, 5ose people are immoral. Because once you agree, which you did, that you don’t need to follow that god’s commandments, your whole argument falls apart.

    Which it did. .

  • “Morality is conformance with the will of God.” That’s what you said.
    You are a catholic. Capital G-god is YOUR god, the only one YOU acknowledge as real, though he disagreed with you in the first Commandment. If one is not conforming to the will of god– whichever of the versions of the Christian god one accepts– then one is, by your very own statement, immoral.
    So, I just did.
    As for the rest of this nonsense, if I have time later, I will show you where even Lewis didn’t agree with you, much less with Lewis.

  • What I said is very different from what you said I said. That much is easy to see, incontrovertible.

    You stand corrected.

    God communicates His will to us in many ways. In Scripture, in the words of others, in nature.

    And in the design of our body.

    Your writing style is very imprecise, and a bit erratic. Don’t bother yourself to try to “show” me anything. Save yourself some time, and begin to re-read CS Lewis.

  • “You said that only people who follow your god’s commandments are moral.”

    Actually he did not.

    Your strawman is on fire.

  • “And the reason he eventually failed with me were all of his deficiencies of knowledge and logic, such as sociology, anthropology, evolution, psychology.”

    You should be an expert on deficiencies in logic.

    So, you rejected religion because it was not sociology, anthropology, evolution, and psychology.


  • Just to walk anyone trying to unscrew your “argument” through this:

    ThomasA believes there is a deity, a deity which created everything which exists except itself.

    ThomasA further believes that this deity has a plan which even non-Christians can parse, for example:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

    If one comports with this plan one’s actions are moral.

    If one does NOT comport with this plan, for example denying men unalienable Rights, one’s actions are immoral.

    You, on the other hand, apparently believe there is some other basis for morality.

    Just what that other basis for morality is you have been singularly unable to articulate in hundreds of posts.

    It seems to have something to do with knowing what you like and what you don’t like.

    So, morality – in your extremely humble opinion – appears to be a matter of taste.