After enabling and worsening the scandals for many years, the left-leaning Pope Francis is now re-branding himself as a pragmatic reformer against sexual abuse.
He led a four-day summit of 190 Bishops and religious superiors that began last Thursday and concluded on Sunday where victims were given a forum to face the institution that permitted and maybe even condoned their abuse. Francis spoke the language of a healer striving for accountability and justice during the proceedings.
“Listen to the cry of the young, who want justice,” Francis said to the gathering. “The holy people of God are watching and expect not just simple and obvious condemnations, but efficient and concrete measures to be established.”
It was certainly a positive step that the victims and their advocates were heard and put the monolithic Catholic Church on notice.
“How could the clerical church have kept silent, covering these atrocities?” she asked. “We must acknowledge that our mediocrity, hypocrisy and complacency have brought us to this disgraceful and scandalous place we find ourselves as a church,” Nigerian nun Sister Veronica Openibo said.
“This storm will not pass by,” she added.
“The question is this: Why should the church be allowed to handle the pedophile question? The question of pedophilia is not a question of religion, it is (a question of) crime,” said Francesco Zanardi, who leads the top advocacy group for clergy victims in Italy, said to a news conference in the Italian parliament.
“You are the physicians of the soul and yet, with rare exceptions, you have been transformed — in some cases — into murderers of the soul, into murderers of the faith,” Chilean survivor Juan Carlos Cruz said to the bishops as he appeared via videotape to the convention.
“He gave me everything I wanted when I accepted to have sex; otherwise he would beat me,” one anonymous victim said. “I got pregnant three times and he made me have an abortion three times, quite simply because he did not want to use condoms or contraceptives.”
However, Pope Francis’ record indicates that this summit will be another disingenuous damage control measure. The Catholic Church’s ability to cover-up these scandals has waned in recent years as victims have used the internet to coordinate reform efforts and share their tragic stories with the world. Francis’ own behavior has worsened the problem immeasurably throughout his papacy.
Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was defrocked last week after Catholic officials determined that abuse allegations made toward him were credible. The Church determined McCarrick was guilty of “sins against the Sixth Commandment with minors and with adults, with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power.” These allegations had been known by the Church since 2000, before McCarrick was given the title of Cardinal. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano exposed the shocking fact last year that Francis rehabilitated McCarrick after Francis’ predecessor Pope Benedict XVI had sanctioned him for sexual abuse. Although it was widely known that he was a serial abuser of children, Francis made McCarrick his “trusted counselor” sending him throughout the world as a Church ambassador shortly after coming into power in 2013.
“Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them,” Vigano said.
In another sick and twisted display of apostasy, Francis consoled prominent Chilean survivor Juan Carlos Cruz – who became homosexual after his frequent victimization at the hands of a Catholic priest – by telling him that God created him to be gay.
“He told me, ‘Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care. The pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are,’” Cruz said to the Spanish newspaper El País.
The four-day event that concluded yesterday is likely the newest phase of Francis’ damage control tour. After contributing directly to the cover-up of pedophile priests and doing a particularly poor job at it, Francis’ last move to keep power and avoid disgrace is creating the public perception that he is solving the problem.
“I would state clearly: If in the Church there should emerge even a single case of abuse – which already in itself represents an atrocity – that case will be faced with the utmost seriousness,” Francis said in his closing remarks to his summit yesterday.
“Indeed, in people’s justified anger, the Church sees the reflection of the wrath of God, betrayed and insulted by these deceitful consecrated persons,” he said. “It is our duty to pay close heed to this silent, choked cry.”
The “people’s justified anger,” as Francis accurately describes, cannot subside until the people responsible for the abuse and the cover-up face justice. Pope Francis has to be at the top of that list due to his complicity regardless of any lip service he pays right now.
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