Pope Francis says Sexual Abuse by Priests is an “Absolute Monstrosity”
In the foreword to memoirs by a survivor of clerical abuse, the Pope promises action, but critics say that he has said this before, but not done nearly enough to hold clerical perpetrators to account.
About This Article as Published in the Mirfield Memories Blog.
Pope Francis recently made his comments in the “Foreword” to a book by Daniel Pittet, who was abused by a priest when he was eight years old. “Reuters” published an article on 17th August 2017 and the German news outlet “Bild” added further comments prior to publishing a resume in their own columns. That article followed on from the publication of excerpts by “Herder”, the German publisher of the book. The UK daily “The Guardian” published a review of all the above last weekend. Brian Mark Hennessy has paraphrased these contributions below and also added a separate article below entitled “What the UK Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse Doesn’t want to Know”.
Pope Francis has branded sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests a “monstrosity” and pledged action against perpetrators and bishops who protected them. He made the comments in the foreword of a new book entitled “Father, I Forgive You: Abused But Not Broken”, written by a Swiss man, Daniel Pittet, who was first raped by a priest when he was eight years old.
Pope Francis, whose repeated promises of zero tolerance have been criticised by victims who say the Vatican needs to do much more, called sexual abuse “an absolute monstrosity, a terrible sin that contradicts everything that the Church teaches”. He continued, “The fate of abused children weighed on his soul, especially those who had taken their own lives. We will counter those priests who betrayed their calling with the most strenuous measures. This also applies to the bishops and cardinals who protected these priests – as happened repeatedly in the past,” he wrote.
Church sexual abuse broke into the open in the United States with reports of cases in Louisiana in 1984, and exploded in 2002, when journalists in Boston found that bishops had systematically moved abusers to new posts instead of defrocking them. Thousands of cases have come to light around the world as investigations have encouraged long-silent victims to go public, shattering the Church’s reputation. More than $2bn has been paid in compensation.
In Ireland, a 10-year inquiry into child abuse within the Catholic church and church-run institutions concluded in 2009 after documenting thousands of cases of beatings, rapes, neglect and exploitation. A similar inquiry in Australia, which began in 2013, was also established following revelations of clergy being moved between parishes to cover up abuse. Thousands of survivors of child sexual abuse have testified to the inquiry, which was not limited to the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis’ efforts against sexual abuse since his election in 2013 have sputtered. Critics say he has not done enough to hold to account those bishops who mishandled cases of abuse or covered it up, and a Vatican commission formed in 2014 to advise him on rooting it out has been hit by internal dissent. Peter Saunders, an English victim of clergy abuse, took a leave of absence last year in protest over a lack of progress. Marie Collins, from Ireland, also a victim of abuse when she was a child, quit in frustration in March, citing a “shameful” lack of co-operation within the Vatican.
In his foreword, Pope Francis praised Pittet’s courage in telling his story, saying he was deeply moved by his ability to forgive his abuser 44 years after he was first molested. The Church has now defrocked the abuser. Pittet, now 58, who as a child endured four years of rapes, abuse and exposure to pornography, wrote that his act of forgiveness had nothing to do with human justice or denial. Pittet wrote in the book, according to excerpts released by the German publisher Herder:
“Forgiveness does not heal the wounds or wipe away the misery … forgiving him has allowed me to burst the chains that bound me to him and which prevented me from living.”