Pope Francis Battles Church Child Abuse, But Critics Think He’s Not Doing Enough

Pope Francis has formed the Vatican Commission On Sexual Abuse Of Children In Catholic Church, which will feature a panel of experts who will advise him on the crisis.

It’s believed that this group will provide information on how to protect children from sexually abusive priests, as well as helping victims that have been attacked in the past.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, made the announcement after Pope Francis had conducted a meeting with his cardinal advisers. Francis has admitted that the Church’s credibility will only remain intact if they are able to deal with the matter.

O’Malley confirmed that this ensemble of experts will provide guidelines for Church officials, conduct more extensive checks on possible priests, and provide codes of conduct for them, too.

He remarked, “Up until now there has been so much focus on the judicial parts of this but the pastoral part is very, very important. The Holy Father is concerned about that.”

O’Malley then added, “We feel that having the advantage of a commission of experts who will be able to study these issues and bring concrete recommendations for the Holy Father and the Holy See will be very important.”

The Pope’s Advisory Council includes Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Cardinal George Pell, Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, and Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya.

Over the last few days though, the Vatican turned down the UN’s request for further information on nuns, monks, and priests who allegedly abused minors. This has lead one of the main Italian associations of clerical abuse survivors to note that it has “little trust” in the Vatican to actually adjust this worrying trend.

Others have criticised Pope Francis’ approach to the crisis, too. Anne Barrett Doyle of BishopAccountability.org said earlier this week, “The world is starting to wonder if Pope Francis has forgotten the crisis.”

She then added, “[He] must address publicly the problems of clergy sexual abuse and its mismanagement with the same candor he has shown on a range of topics, from homosexuality to mediocre homilies. He has shown zest in ridding the Vatican of financial corruption. He must apply the same energy and determination toward ridding the church of bishops who have enabled abuse.”

The Tablet’s Robert Mickens also raised his concerns too, stating, “I can understand his desire to start the new pontificate off on a positive note, but sexual abuse by priests has not been totally eliminated. And, worse, the bishops are still rather clumsy—at best—in the way they have handled accusations. This is, without a doubt, one of the weakest aspects of his pontificate.”

Do you think Pope Francis should be doing more to battle child abuse in the church?

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