The Independent—Pope will make historic apology for abuse
Pope Benedict XVI is planning to make the first general apology for the abuse of children and minors by Roman Catholic priests when he meets thousands of clergymen from around the world in June at the climax of the International Year for Priests, Vatican sources say.
In the past there have been papal or church apologies for individual cases of paedophilia or for abuse in specific countries, for example during the German pontiff's recent visit to Malta. What is being prepared now would be the first time a pope seeks to atone publicly for the extent to which paedophilia has been a major stain on the modern history of the church touching a constellation of countries, say the sources at the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy. It could be considered comparable to the historic step that the previous pope, John Paul II, took in apologising to the Jews for historic church anti-Semitism and for misdeeds during the Crusades, they say.
Vatican officials hope such an unprecedented act of penance by Benedict, together with thousands of clergymen in St Peter's Square, 9-11 June, will do much to lay to rest the scandal and defuse protests that might disrupt his trip to Britain in September. The encounter will form the climax of the special year of events designed in part to encourage vocations to the cloth but which instead has been marred by the mushrooming paedophile scandal.
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Pope Benedict XVI
Posted April 25, 2010 at 6:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]
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1. New Reformation Advocate wrote:
Well, such an apology would be a good thing, but words alone don’t constitute repentance or acts of penance. I’m glad to hear that something similar to JP II’s historic apology to the Jews may be planned, but personally, I’m hoping for more. I agree with the devout RC journalist Peggy Noonan that an appropriate symbol of real repentance would be for the pope to strip the infamous Cardinal Law (architect of the Boston coverups) of his red hat, miter, and ring. But it does appear that this pope gets it. Better late than never.
April 25, 7:25 pm | [comment link]
2. Catholic Mom wrote:
I agree with NRA. It’s not enough to apologize. Something must actually be done. In Japan, when you were the head of an organization or enterprise which had screwed up royally, there was a time that you’d have been expected to kill yourself, even if you yourself were blameless. The pope should definitely not kill himself. But something equally dramatic has to be done or the damage to the Church will not be repaired for generations.
April 25, 8:20 pm | [comment link]
3. swac wrote:
I saw an interview with Sinead O’Conner about the abuse in Ireland . She was asked if she still believes in God. Her answer shook me. She said (not verbatim) “Of course I do. I just wish that our so called leaders (Bishops) do.”
April 25, 8:54 pm | [comment link]
I spoke to an English R.C. Deacon several years ago about the abuse. He assured me that it was just an American problem and there was nothing to worry about.
4. DonGander wrote:
I have a rather strange take on all of this - I’m just thankful that the world still cares about abused children. I once read a district attorney report that had the opinion that in some areas over 1/3rd of children are sexually abused in some way. Most of the stories left one physically ill. I don’t see any politicians rising up in disgust over the regular reports of abuse from schools and homes and other places. Perhaps there is yet hope that they may do so.
April 25, 9:57 pm | [comment link]
5. Jackson wrote:
This is laudable but will only gain full support if it’s not only institutional but also personal. Benedict did solid work in this decade. But the actions in previous decades have spawned key but unanswered questions.
April 26, 12:30 am | [comment link]
6. Anne Trewitt wrote:
If the evidence is there to convict Law, I too would like to see him deprived of miter and ring. Not sure to what extent my motives are base vindictiveness or what removing miter and ring would accomplish at this point other than as a symbolic gesture. But transparency calls for a full disclosure of why Law continues in his episcopal state.
Mentioning Japanese society is interesting. Ruth Benedict described Japanese culture (controversially) as a shame culture, whereas Western Judeo-Christian heritage supports a guilt culture. Putting aside the reasons I prefer the latter, the public gesture of an apology by a leader of an organization when said leader bears no direct responsibility for the harms done (& the ‘smoking gun’ tying Benedict to all this has yet to be found) strikes me as responding to shame rather than guilt. Perhaps it’s necessary, since some people think this way (including, it seems, some of the perpetrating clergy and bishops who apparently couldn’t be stopped by guilty consciences, but could be stopped by public shaming). But I would much rather see concrete actions than hear well spun words.
As for continuing cries for concrete actions that actually safeguard children and vulnerable adults, what hasn’t been done and isn’t being done? http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article7106076.ece
I’ll be falsely and stupidly accused, once again, of trying to divert attention from the Catholic Church by saying this, but I address this comment to the intelligent. (And I will not respond to anyone who misses the point.) Keep the focus on the Catholic Church by all means, but read the article linked above as well as many other sources and tell me that fixating on clergy sex abuse and episcopal cover-ups in the Catholic Church (or any of the churches) isn’t an unhealthy way of avoiding a serious society-wide problem. Putting the complicity of the Catholic Church in the proper context of this mammoth problem in all society will necessarily lessen the glare of media and public attention on the wrongs of the RCC which will frustrate all shades of anti-Catholicism. But who cares if it means recognizing that – N.B. – children are being abused!
April 26, 4:24 am | [comment link]
7. Br. Michael wrote:
I wish that rather than talking in euphemisms these articles would set out the facts concerning the type of sexual abuse involved. Are we talking about elderly grandfathers abusing their 4 year old grand daughters or what? I think we know what went on but we are too cowed to mention it. Just what are we talking about here?
April 26, 7:25 am | [comment link]
8. Sarah wrote:
RE: “Vatican officials hope such an unprecedented act of penance by Benedict, together with thousands of clergymen in St Peter’s Square, 9-11 June, will do much to lay to rest the scandal . . . “
Man, I hope they’re not that naive. If Pope Benedict thinks it’s the right thing to do that’s fine. But it certainly won’t lay to rest anything, in large part because those progressive activists who are terrified of Benedict’s reforms of the RC church won’t allow it to.
April 26, 10:17 am | [comment link]
9. phil swain wrote:
#4, as I think you rightfully imply, the “world” doesn’t care as much about child abuse as about beating the Catholic Church with any stick it can find. The Catholic Church is one institution in which child abuse has been significantly below the norm, yet look at where the attacks are aimed.
April 26, 10:24 am | [comment link]
Have Anglicans issued a serious call for their institutions to be investigated for child abuse in the last 100 years as have the Catholic institutions in America and Ireland?
10. Anne Trewitt wrote:
April 26, 11:07 am | [comment link]
Several years ago, I spoke w/ an Episcopal (TEC) priest who said he had been part of a commission that addressed sex abuse claims in TEC. The gist of his comments was that it was just as bad there and that TEC was hoping to keep its head down until the media frenzy over the Catholic Church dies down. He also indicated that TEC has kept pace w/ the Catholic Church in instituting safeguards. I assume the same goes for ACNA. The difference is that the Anglicans get to do it (so far) w/o the media glare. Hopefully it will remain so.
11. swac wrote:
As with most abuses of power in any organization it is not the abuse but the cover up, when discovered, that does the most damage to the organization. And so it should be
April 26, 12:07 pm | [comment link]
12. phil swain wrote:
Anne, did the commission issue a document that details the abuse? I don’t think TEC needs to be worried about the media glare; it wouldn’t fit the narrative.
April 26, 2:10 pm | [comment link]
13. Anne Trewitt wrote:
I regret I can’t recall the details about the commission. I use the word “commission” loosely, and its work took place shortly before the 1993 blow up in the Catholic Church. I do remember the priest saying he was “called in” to deal with sex abuse allegations, so I don’t know if 815 put together a group of clergy from various dioceses. But this priest’s overall point was, “We’ve been through what you’re going through, and somehow we’ve avoided the attention of the media.”
April 26, 2:39 pm | [comment link]