In a letter filled with empty rhetoric Pope Francis offers thoughts and prayers while expressing his sorrow that Catholic clergy was once again caught raping and sexually abusing children.
Pope Francis has acknowledged “with shame and repentance” the Catholic Church’s failure to act over sexual abuse by clerics against minors going back decades, writing “we showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.”
In the letter released by the Vatican on Monday, Pope Francis writes:
I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons.
Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient. Looking ahead to the future, 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.
While the letter is filled with trite, feel-good pablum for gullible Catholics, it offers nothing concrete to address the criminal activities of the Catholic Church, activities that include not only the rape and sexual abuse of children, but the criminal conspiracy to cover up those crimes, a criminal conspiracy at every level of the Catholic Church, from the Vatican on down, to protect and enable the predator priests raping and sexually abusing children.
To be clear, the letter from Pope Francis does not call for resignations; the letter does not call for changes to policy or procedures; the letter does not call for criminal prosecutions.
Instead, Pope Francis calls on Catholics to engage in “penance and prayer” while suggesting that “fasting” is the way to combat sexual abuse:
… penance and prayer will help us to open our eyes and our hearts to other people’s sufferings and to overcome the thirst for power and possessions that are so often the root of those evils. May fasting and prayer open our ears to the hushed pain felt by children, young people and the disabled. A fasting that can make us hunger and thirst for justice and impel us to walk in the truth, supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary. A fasting that shakes us up and leads us to be committed in truth and charity with all men and women of good will, and with society in general, to combatting all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience.
Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of the watchdog website BishopAccountability.org, called the letter “2,000 words of recycled rhetoric” that failed to provide concrete measures to make ending abuse a priority. Doyle notes:
In the wake of the atrocities detailed in the Pennsylvania grand jury report, heartsick Catholics again look to the pope, yearning for a specific plan for ending the cover-up once and for all.His rambling letter today dashes this hope.
Doyle is correct: The letter is empty rhetoric from a moral coward unwilling to protect children from predator priests. However, the tepid and vacuous reaction from Francis should come as no surprise.
A 2017 in-depth report from the Associated Press found that Pope Francis was “quietly making the Catholic church a safe space for pedophile priests.”
The report found that Pope Francis has been reducing sanctions against pedophile priests, and even refusing to defrock priests found guilty of sexually abusing children, all in the name of mercy.
Bottom line: Pope Francis is sorry Catholic clergy got caught raping and sexually abusing children again, and he sends his thoughts and prayers to the kids raped and sexually assaulted by his priests.