Pope Francis accepted that young people are turning away from the Catholic Church after its sexual abuse scandal reached epic proportions — a scandal that the Vatican, including the present pontifex, has been allegedly covering up for decades.
On Tuesday, while visiting Estonia, Francis said the youth has been “scandalized” by the wave of sexual assault reports against the clergy world over and have lost their trust in the Church, reported the Associated Press.
“Many young people do not turn to us for anything because they don’t feel we have anything meaningful to say to them,” Francis told the Christian gathering at a church in Tallinn.
The pope added the church had failed the youth, who “are outraged by sexual and economic scandals that do not meet with clear condemnation, by our unpreparedness to really appreciate the lives and sensibilities of the young, and simply by the passive role we assign them.”
Francis said it is clear that young people want the Church to be “transparent, welcoming, honest, inviting, communicative, accessible, joyful and interactive.”
“We ourselves need to be converted,” he added. “We have to realize that, in order to stand by your side, we need to change many situations that, in the end, put you off.”
The comments came on the same day the German Bishops Conference released a report saying 3,677 people were abused by the clergy of the Catholic Church in Germany between 1946 and 2014. Over half the victims were 13 years or younger and most were boys. Every sixth case consisted of rape and at least 1,670 members of the clergy were involved.
The pope also added the Church was doing all in its power to stop the rampant abuse.
“In old times these things were covered up,” he told journalists on Tuesday. “They were covered up also in the homes when the uncle raped the little niece, or the father raped his children. They were covered up because the shame was very big.”
Giving the example of Pennsylvania where over 300 priests abused 1,000 children, the pope said, “Look at the report and you will see that when the church began to become aware of this, then we gave it our all to stop it….And in recent times I have received many, many guilty verdicts from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and ... I have said go ahead, go ahead, but never ever did I sign a pardon request after a guilty verdict. One doesn't negotiate on this, there is no negotiation.”
However, much of what the pope said does not ring true.
Around the world, the victims, government officials and advocates of sexual abuse by the clergy have called on the senior church officials to hold accountable predatory priests and the bishops who cover up for them. However, their pleas have fallen on deaf years. In fact, in August, a high ranking former Vatican official even accused Pope Francis of sweeping sexual misconduct of a former cardinal under the rug.
The controversial Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò wrote in a letter last month that Francis as well as his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, were long aware of the sexual misconduct allegations against sexual misconduct allegations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and were accomplices to his abuses.
The 88-year-old McCarrick was the archbishop of Washington, D.C. and was accused of molesting a teenage boy, resulting in more allegations of sexual misconduct against him and his subsequent resignation from the church.
Archbishop Vigano claimed Pope Benedict ignored several warnings about McCarrick and only placed sanctions on the cardinal on publicly celebrating Mass, living in a seminary, giving lectures and traveling, after a statement from a psychotherapist regarding McCarrick’s conduct. However, these restrictions were rather not enforced or respected by McCarrick who continued to make public appearances afterward.
Vigano also claimed he personally informed Francis of McCarrick’s action in 2013 but the pope did not take any action against the cardinal and in fact did not seem even surprised to hear the news. In fact, the pope further empowered McCarrick by awarding him even more influence and authority, including making him the U.S. ambassador for the Church. Francis reportedly only accepted McCarrick’s resignation after news of his misconduct broke on media outlets.
The pope has also been accused of defending Chilean Bishop Juan Barros, who reportedly covered up the sexual crimes of Rev. Fernando Karadima, in January. Karadima victims have been reporting to church officials since 2000 that he would kiss and grope them in his parish in Santiago but no one paid their claims any heed. Only when the victims went public did the Vatican launch an investigation into Karadima’s conduct.
However, the pope refused to condemn Bishop Barros, who allegedly hid Karadima’s crimes and said the victims were slandering Barros. Francis said their claims were “all calumny” and were being influenced by “leftists.” The pope’s words were caught on video and till this day are played in Chile to showcase the pontifex disdain for the wellbeing of the children.
The depth of corruption in the Catholic Church wildly surpasses any previous estimates and the deluge isn’t showing any sign of stopping anytime soon. Francis has issued an unprecedented call to the top bishops to have a meeting in Rome in February 2019 to discuss how to protect children. However, it seems the Church has lost all credibility to deal with such investigations.
The only solution left is a complete clean-up of the top clergy starting from the Vatican itself, under the assumption that every person in an authoritative role who has helped cover up these abuses should be removed from his position of power and only those who have stood up for the protection of children should be allowed to stay.
Banner/Thumbnail Credits: REUTERS/Max Rossi