Irish Times: the church must act on abuse

The Pope has been to Ireland and made noises about awful amounts of abuse by perpetrator priests, but there is little sign yet that anything substantial is being done by the Vatican, which has been abysmally negligent in the past.

The Irish Times view on the papal visit fallout: now the church must act on abuse

Pope Francis has returned to Rome after his brief visit to Ireland where he charmed with his humility and his plea for forgiveness over the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests and its cover-up by bishops. Yet, nothing has changed.

As the afterglow of that visit recedes, a Vatican emerges once more where things are as was. There, inadequate mechanisms for holding to account those prelates who cover up the abuse of children remain. This is unacceptable.

Catholics, and others whose children may be in Catholic care, cannot be expected to accept the Vatican’s ongoing resistance to setting up a tribunal with powers of dismissal to deal with bishops and religious superiors who cover up the abuse of children.

Pope Francis has returned to Rome after his brief visit to Ireland where he charmed with his humility and his plea for forgiveness over the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests and its cover-up by bishops. Yet, nothing has changed.

As the afterglow of that visit recedes, a Vatican emerges once more where things are as was. There, inadequate mechanisms for holding to account those prelates who cover up the abuse of children remain. This is unacceptable.

Catholics, and others whose children may be in Catholic care, cannot be expected to accept the Vatican’s ongoing resistance to setting up a tribunal with powers of dismissal to deal with bishops and religious superiors who cover up the abuse of children.

These documents detail what both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis have described as crimes and should be available to legitimate State inquiries, internationally. That such co-operation in investigating crime centred on the protection of children has been resisted by the Vatican is, frankly, intolerable.

Now we see allegations of cover-up move centre stage in the current Catholic Church civil war between liberals and traditionalists, used as mud by both sides to sling at one another.

If the Catholic Church does not address accountability in a manner which ensures children are safe, then the international community should intervene to help it do so.

This is far from being just an Irish problem, it is a world wide disgrace.

Here in New Zealand the Otago Daily Times and NZ Herald have detailed similar patterns of abuse by priest and negligent responses from the church that has enabled even more abuses.

ODT: The stain of sexual abuse

The Otago Daily Times Insight series ”Marked by the Cross” has uncovered disturbing details about the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of Dunedin priest Fr Magnus Murray.

He quickly returned to public ministry while in Australia and was welcomed back into the fold as a parish priest in North Island centres from 1977 until retiring in 1990.

A common story of moving a problem priest to other locations where abuses continued.

Fr Murray is just one of many priests worldwide accused or convicted of offences against mainly teenage boys. Pope Francis in June accepted the resignations of the bishop at the centre of Chile’s clerical sex abuse scandal and two other priests, launching a purge of the Catholic Church in a country where it had been damaged by an avalanche of abuse and cover-up accusations.

More from the ODT in just the last nine days:

And this shows how badly the church is still handling this: Trio ‘sincerely regret’ hurt caused by comments

The Bishops of Auckland and Dunedin, together with a senior member of the Catholic Diocese of Dunedin, have added their names to an apology for earlier comments implying parents bore some responsibility for stopping clerical sexual abuse.

Dunedin Bishop the Most Rev Michael Dooley and Monsignor the Rt Rev John Harrison, both of Dunedin, and Auckland Bishop the Most Rev Patrick Dunn have together signed a joint apology sent to the Otago Daily Times as a letter to the editor.

In it, the trio said they wanted to “unreservedly apologise” for earlier comments published by ODT Insight as part of its ongoing Marked by the Cross investigation.

“We unreservedly apologise if we gave the impression that parents were somehow to blame for the sexual abuse of their children.

“This was never our intention and we are, each of us, saddened that it was interpreted in this way.”

The comments, which provoked an outcry, came in the ODT Insight article Sins of a Father, published earlier this month.

It seems apparent that neither the Pope nor senior New Zealand Catholics get the severity of the crisis, nor how to properly deal with it.

Pope Francis needs to lead on this or both his tenure and his church face major problems of credibility.