‘Turn yourselves in and face justice,’ Pope tells abusive priests

‘Turn yourselves in and face justice,’ Pope tells abusive priests December 22, 2018

In a pre-Christmas address yesterday, Pope Francis urged priests who have sexually abused minors to turn themselves in to the authorities to face ‘human justice and prepare for divine justice.’

It’s not clear whether the Pope meant that these predators should surrender to the Church judicial system, civil justice, or both.

In his address to the Curia – the Vatican’s central administration – the Pope said:

To those who abuse minors I would say this: convert and hand yourself over to human justice, and prepare for divine justice.

His message comes ahead of  a summit on the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse crisis slated to take place early next year  that will be attended by the heads of some 110 national Catholic bishops’ conferences and dozens of experts and leaders of religious orders in the Vatican.

Francis has previously used the Christmas address to denounce cases of corruption and mismanagement in the Curia. This time, he concentrated on the global sexual abuse crisis.

Let it be clear that, faced with these abominations, the Church will spare no effort to do all that is necessary to bring to justice whoever has committed such crimes. The Church will never seek to hush up or not take seriously any case.

Previous promises made by the Pope of zero tolerance of abuse have been met with scepticism, with victim groups demanding more than mere words. The have insisted that the Church has to come up with clear policies to make bishops themselves accountable for the mishandling of abuse cases.

Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, a group that tracks abuse cases worldwide, said the Pope’s words on their own did nothing to protect children or deter abusers and the Church had to come up with real changes at the conference.

Let’s hope that he’s working now on a host of concrete systemic reforms that he plans to present soon to a horrified and grieving people.

Idaho Statesman screenshot

News of the Pope’s address coincided with a report that a 73-year old Idaho Catholic priest – the Rev W Thomas Faucher, above – was sentenced yesterday (Friday) to 25 years in prison for possession of an enormous collection of child pornography.

But Faucher, who described himself at his trial at Ada County Courthouse in Boise as “one sick puppy”, told Judge Jason Scott that he was “deeply sorry” for amassing shocking images of children; that he was deeply struck by the victim impact statements and that he now knows child pornography is not a victimless crime.

Of the images police found on Faucher’s cellphone, computer and Dropbox account, more than 2,500 files were sexually exploitative or pornographic with young-looking subjects. The images were described by police as violent, disturbing and torturous, some involving children crying.

I was one really sick puppy. I screwed up big time … I feel so much remorse and anger.

In pleading not to be imprisoned, he said there are many people he’d like to continue help.

There are no people who will benefit if I am in jail or in prison.

Faucher’s defence attorney, Mark Manweiler, had called for probation and sex offender treatment instead of prison time.

He said the evidence does not support that Faucher looked at all of the images on the computer. He also said that although Faucher looked at, possessed and shared child pornography:

He’s never sexually abused any child.

The lawyer added

Tom isn’t a good person. He’s a wonderful person.

He was referring to the fact that the priest had “helped hundreds if not thousands of people”, including Boise Mayor Dave Bieter, who claimed Faucher had assisted his family.

After the priest’s arrest the diocese evicted Faucher from his church-owned home, then exorcised it before putting it up for sale.

Diocese officials that they will seek to have Faucher defrocked. In a press release after the priests sentencing they said:

The volumes of shocking information that the law enforcement investigation uncovered reveal the heinous nature of child pornography and the tragic impact upon its victims. While we cannot begin to fathom what brought Faucher to the point that he was able to enter into this evil and dark world, we are thankful for the efforts of the law enforcement community in doing what it can to protect our children from these crimes.

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  • Broga

    Bit harsh that. Being able to sexually abuse their your flock has always been assumed to be safe. Any problems and they blamed the kids and there was always the threat of hellfire. The examples, especially from Ireland are many and growing. So many lives of people now middle aged wrecked by these religious sexual predators. Where is the satisfaction in celibacy if the centuries old delight of paedophilia is removed?
    As the churches empty, the power wanes, the finance dries up and the hypocrisy is ramped up.

  • Michael Neville

    Is Pope Frankie going to tell bishops to release their files on sexual predators to the appropriate civil authorities?

  • Daffodil

    As to the pope, can we all say together, “Too little, too late.” As to that despicable creature in Idaho, if he wants to “do good”, he can name names while he sits in prison. Expose as many other people involved in this disgusting activity as possible and he might redeem himself a tiny bit.

  • Raging Bee

    Wow, it took this Pope LESS THAN FOUR HUNDRED YEARS to start to admit that us liberal secular folks had the right idea, and his Church was wrong, the whole time. THAT’S a “progressive Pope!” :-/

  • Jemolk

    Telling them to turn themselves in? Why doesn’t the pope turn them in himself? Hell, why didn’t the Vatican turn them in decades ago rather than covering up for them? Why do we still not see a shift in official policy to address the systemic problems fostered by the church? No, this isn’t even too little too late. This is just PR Pope being PR Pope while business as usual continues in the background.

  • Cozmo the Magician

    Hey Papa Frankie. Why not turn yourself in for the following crimes: Harboring felons, aiding and abetting, money laundering, fraud, (more fucking conspiracies than I can list), child abuse, murder, rape, and the list goes on and on.

    Hey you fucker in the white dress, your OWN DAMN BOOK has things about throwing stones and motes in the eye. IOW, call the cops and admit your own damn crimes.

  • Daz

    He’s never sexually abused any child.

    Utter rot. If your client buys beer, your client is the direct reason for the hops being grown. If your client provides a demand for child pornography, they are the reason for the abuse of children. That’s why it’s not a victimless crime fer Pete’s sake.

  • lib1

    Read the pope’s statement. He didn’t say that church officials would investigate clergymen accused of sex assault and report them to law enforcement. Instead, he directed them to turn themselves in, knowing full well most will not. He is not “progressive” but rather provides a softer face to an institution that’s still rigid and corrupt.

  • TheBookOfDavid

    He said the evidence does not support that Faucher looked at all of the images on the computer

    I would like to remind the court that ordering, and payment on delivery, does not establish intent to eat a pizza.

  • lib1 5+

  • Sophotroph

    Why don’t you turn them in, Popey? You know who they are because you’ve spent your life protecting them from this justice you now seem so keen on.