Pope Francis’s sex abuse speech was a disgraceful display of excuses
By Marc A. Thiessen
February 26, 2019 at 3:03 PM
Pope Francis’s closing address to the Vatican Summit on Child Protection was a disgraceful display of excuses and evasions. He began with extended meditation on how a “great number of” abuse cases are “committed within families.” He urged the assembled bishops to focus on “other forms of abuse” experienced by “child soldiers,” “starving children,” “child victims of war” and “refugee children.” He laid out an agenda that, bizarrely, focused on matters have nothing to do with clerical abuse (such as combating “sexual tourism”). And, most shamefully of all, he lashed out at those demanding that bishops who covered up abuse and silenced victims be held to account, declaring that the church must “rise above” those who “exploit, for various interests, the very tragedy experienced by the little ones.”
Sorry, Holy Father, that’s not good enough.
While Francis did declare that “no abuse should ever be covered up (as was often the case in the past),” he still refuses to tell us which bishops and cardinals did the covering up. It’s true that, just days before the summit, he removed disgraced former archbishop Theodore McCarrick from the priesthood. But Francis still refuses to explain: What took so long? Who knew about McCarrick’s alleged serial predations and did nothing? When did Francis know? And why did he not punish McCarrick until his crimes — which were repeatedly reported to the Vatican — were publicly exposed by the media?
Indeed, Francis’s decision to focus the summit exclusively on “the protection of minors” was a cynical ploy to avoid addressing questions of accountability, or the rampant sexual abuse of vulnerable adults by their religious superiors. The accusations against McCarrick were not limited tohis horrific abuse of children. He allegedly forced countless young priests and seminarians, whose careers he could make or break, to have sex with him. Last week, The Post reported on the Rev. Lauro Sedlmayer, who says he was sexually abused as a young priest by McCarrick during the 1990s. The priest says he told three bishops and that nothing was done. “To not be believed and to be ignored and demonized by the people to whom I reported the abuse victimized me a second time,” he said.