Venerdì, 19 Ottobre 2018
VATICAN CITY

Francis 'to continue decisive action' on paedophilia

English
© ANSA

(By Paul Virgo)
Vatican City, April 5 - Pope Francis has pledged to
maintain the line of "decisive" action adopted by his
predecessor Benedict XVI in dealing with child sex abuse cases
in the Catholic Church, the Vatican said Friday.
In a meeting with Mons. Gerhard Ludwig Muller, who is in
charge of paedophilia issues in his role as prefect of the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Francis said he
would "continue in the line wanted by Benedict XVI".
A Vatican statement explained that this meant: "acting
decisively as regards cases of sexual abuse, promoting measures
that protect minors, above all; help for those who have suffered
such violence in the past; necessary procedures against those
found guilty; (and) the commitment of bishops' conferences in
formulating and implementing the necessary directives in this is
area that is so important for the church's witness and
credibility".
The Catholic Church has been rocked in recent years by a
long series of paedophilia scandals, most of which emerged under
Benedict's eight-year papacy, although in many cases the abuse
dates back decades and was hidden by the clergy.
In cases in countries including the United States, Ireland,
Australia, Netherlands, Norway, Austria, Germany, Belgium and
Italy, the Church was found to have discouraged victims from
reporting abuse to the police.
There were also a number of documented cases of Church
authorities moving paedophile priests away from one post to
another, where they repeated their crimes with fresh victims.
Benedict's initial response to the scandals was depicted by
many as being defensive.
The former pope also personally came under fire for
allegedly failing to respond properly to several abuse cases
when he was in charge of the Congregation for the Doctrine of
the Faith, the Church's doctrinal watchdog.
But he became increasingly open about sex abuse,
apologised for it and in 2010 he issued new Church instructions
on dealing with paedophile priests, making it mandatory for
cases to be reported to the police.
Benedict also prayed with abuse victims on many of his
trips overseas, including to Malta and Britain.
Nevertheless, the US Survivors Network of those Abused by
Priests (SNAP), was unimpressed by Francis's vow to continue the
path set by his predecessor.
"Once again, as has happened hundreds of times already, a
top Catholic official says he's asking another top Catholic
official to take action about pedophile priests and complicit
bishops," SNAP Outreach Director Barbara Dorris said in a
statement.
"Big deal... Catholic officials have long discussed abuse -
privately for centuries and publicly for decades. Action, not
discussion, is needed.
"We can't confuse words with actions. When we do, we hurt
kids".
Francis's legacy as the head of the world's 1.2 billion
Catholics will depend to a significant degree on how he manages
the sex-abuse issue.
The run-up to last month's conclave to elect Benedict's
successor was overshadowed to some degree by controversies about
cardinals who allegedly had tainted records in their handling of
such cases.
Before the conclave SNAP issued a list of a 'dirty dozen'
cardinals it said should not be considered as papal contenders,
such as Sean O'Malley from Boston, Peter Turkson from Ghana and
Italy's Angelo Scola, who were considered frontrunners at the
time.
Shortly before the conclave British Cardinal Keith O'Brien
resigned as archbishop of Scotland and withdrew from the papal
election after admitting to inappropriate sexual conduct in the
1980s with a number of seminarists.
But Cardinal Roger Mahony, the former archbishop of Los
Angeles, took part in the conclave despite petitions for him not
to because of his role in allegedly covering up instances of
priest sex abuse in the United States.
A victims group has called on Francis to open the Argentine
Church's files on its alleged protection of two priests who were
eventually convicted of sexually assaulting children when he was
the archbishop of Buenos Aires.
The US-based Bishop Accountability group cited the cases of
Father Julio Cesar Grassi, who ran a children's foundation and
was convicted of pedophilia in 2008, and Father Napoleon Sasso,
convicted in 2007 of abusing girls at a soup kitchen in suburban
Buenos Aires.
As archbishop of Buenos Aires, the future pope said his
archdiocese had been very attentive to the problem and
"rigorous" in its screening and selection of candidates for the
priesthood and religious life.
Friday's Vatican statement added that Francis "assures that
those who have suffered abuse are particularly present in his
attention and his prayers".

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