For Pope Francis, Words Speak Louder than Actions on Sex Abuse Cover Up

Pope Francis public domain 2After commending US bishops for their courage in dealing with the scandal of child sexual abuse by priests, Pope Francis finally spent a portion of his last day in the US meeting with the victims of sexual abuse.

“God weeps” at the sexual abuse of children, he said, in a translation from Spanish of his remarks in a scripted address in the chapel at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary. “I commit to the careful oversight to ensure that youth are protected.”

Francis’ words belie his actions, however. One of the Pope’s closest collaborators has been implicated in the cover-up of sexual abuse. That man is Cardinal Godfried Daneels, who was caught on tape in 2010 trying to bully a sex abuse victim into silence to protect the victim’s abuser, a Belgian Bishop. Among other things, Daneels told the victim that he should keep quiet about the abuse and “acknowledge your own guilt.”

If Pope Francis was really committed to “careful oversight” and youth protection, he should be reprimanding Daneels and other Bishops for just these kinds of hateful, victim-blaming acts of covering up decades of abuse that caused such a scandal in the Church. Instead, Francis personally invited Daneels to assume a leading role in the upcoming synod on the family.

Once again, we see the head of the Catholic Church paying lip service to protecting children when he is really protecting the power hierarchy of the Church. Francis has a shrewd, calculating understanding of public relations. Although the media ignores stories like this in favor of covering Francis’s secular speeches on climate change, courageous survivors of sexual abuse will continue to spread the truth. We must call Pope Francis to account for his friends like Cardinal Daneels and the Church’s continued inaction on the sexual exploitation and abuse of children.

Dumas and Vaughn Attorneys at Law has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and other states.

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