Pope Francis said “God weeps” for the victims of sexual abuse. Though the sentiment appeared quite emotional, the pope may have sent one of the sternest warnings to his clergymen.
Pope Francis was deeply moved after meeting with sexual abuse survivors. The three women and two men he interacted with were victims of consistent sexual assault by members of the clergy, their own family members, or teachers when they were children. After listening to their ordeals as kids, the pope appeared quite apologetic for a very simple reason: these victims weren’t taken seriously when they had mustered the courage to report the abuse. Despite their battles to get heard, the respective churches had attempted to either dismiss the accusations or downplay their significance.
However, Pope Francis has perhaps issued one of the strongest warnings to American bishops who were partly to blame for trying to protect pedophile priests. The pope said he was “deeply sorry” and strongly assured them that he believed them and their accounts.
“I pledge to you that we will follow the path of truth wherever it may lead. Clergy and bishops will be held accountable when they abuse or fail to protect children.”
To ensure his clergymen got the message loud and clear, Pope Francis later met with a few American bishops and reiterated his sentiments.
“The people who had the responsibility to take care of these tender ones violated that trust and caused them great pain. God weeps over what was done to the youngsters. Those who have survived this abuse have become true heralds of mercy. Humbly we owe each of them our gratitude for their great value, as they have had to suffer terrible abuse, sexual abuse of minors.”
While it is common for the pope to meet with sexual abuse victims, it is quite uncommon to hear one speak so sternly and vow to take action.
Interestingly, Pope Francis’ gesture got off to a rocky start, when he consoled American bishops for enduring a lot of turmoil, humiliation, and pain during the sexual abuse scandal that had rocked the world, when it surfaced. This was too much to bear for the actual victims, who had undergone the ordeal with the added burden of being dismissed and hated even, for insulting the men of the cloth.
Though the words of the pope may ring with determination, quite a few have labeled his interaction with the survivors “another feel good, do nothing papal meeting with survivors.” These groups have strongly expressed their skepticism towards the actions and intentions of Pope Francis, raising doubts whether he will deliver on his promises or simply pass-by as his predecessors, said SNAP’s David Clohessy,
“Is a child anywhere on Earth safer now that a pope, for maybe the seventh or eighth time or ninth time, has briefly chatted with abuse victims? No.”
Do you think Pope Francis will ensure swift action is taken against those who have committed the crimes?
[Image Credit | Franco Origlia / Getty Images]