Pope Francis has asked for forgiveness regarding the child abuse scandals within the Roman Catholic Church on Friday and said that he takes personal responsibility. He also mentioned that the Church would impose penalties on members of the clergy who hurt children.
“The Roman Catholic Church knows of the harm that has been done, and we will only take steps forward,” the Pope has said. “It is being seen as personal, immoral, and I want to take personal responsibility for the evil some priests have. I would also like to ask for forgiveness for the harm that has been inflicted by men of the church onto children.”
“This is talk, not action,” Barbara Dorris, outreach director of the U.S.-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has said. “Until action is actually being done, all should stay vigilant. There are examples.” She mentioned Robert Finn, a Bishop in Kansas City, who had been convicted of a misdemeanor in 2012 of failing to report suspected child abuse and who still remains in office. “He is still in office,” Dorris said. “That sends an important message to other priests because of the fact that Finn is still there.”
The Pope’s comments on the matter of taking responsibility for child abuse within the Catholic Church were said on Friday to the International Catholic Child Bureau. They are a change from what he has said in the past regarding the matter.
In March, Pope Francis was defensive when asked about the ongoing issues of child sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church. He was quoted by an Italian newspaper as saying, “The Catholic Church has taken responsibility and moved with transparency. Regardless of what it does, it is the only public institution always being attacked.”
Earlier this year, a panel for the United Nations accused the matter of child abuse within the church as being badly handled and dealt with by the Vatican. They also said the church was concerned only with its reputation and not the welfare of victims.
“The Pope sees this as one of his top priorities,” Reverend Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, has said. The statement came after Pope Francis put together a committee consisting of 8 members, including one sexual abuse survivor, to talk to the church on how to protect children and punish those who abuse them. They were put together to help train staff of the church in dealing with the matter, as well.
Francis comes from Argentina and was elected to be the new Pope on March 13, 2013 after the German Benedict XVI decided to resign. Pope Benedict, who served the Catholic Church from 2005 to 2013, had also spoken countless times about the matter of child abuse and responsibility the Catholic Church had, but advocates said he did little to nothing about the matter. Instead, Pope Benedict met with pre-selected victims of sexual abuse by the Church and offered his deepest sorrows. Beyond that, he had done little else. Throughout his papacy, there were constant allegations being made of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests.
By Jessica Cooley