Pope Pledges to Penalize Clergy Who Harm Children

Click here to read: “Pope Francis asks forgiveness for priests who sexually abused children,” by Daniel Burke and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN, April 11, 2014

Excerpt: “The church is aware of this damage, it is personal, moral damage carried out by men of the church, and we will not take one step backward with regards to how we will deal with this problem, and the sanctions that must be imposed.” – Pope Francis

30 thoughts on “Pope Pledges to Penalize Clergy Who Harm Children

  1. Many people have walked away from organized religion. Unfortunately, many who have “walked away” have lost their faith in the Lord and I believe the bishops are responsible for the loss of faith for those tens of thousands of people. Along with that responsibility goes the responsibility of individual bishops for the abuse of those children after the fact, that is, when a particular bishop really knew that an individual abused a child but instead of immediately removing him from ministry and reporting him to civil authorities asap, he transferred him to the other end of the diocese where that priest continued to abuse children.

    Thank God there is still a lot of outrage out there. The bishops can and are still throwing around excommunications and trying to exercise their power but their moral power is pretty much gone. Ordinary people just aren’t listening to the bishops anymore and those who do participate in the Church, do so on the local parish level. Ordinary people I talk to tell me that everything, everything they hear from the pulpit is filtered through the lens of the hierarchy’s mishandling of the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

    Remember too, that the bishops of the USCCB only did what they did do when things imploded in the Archdiocese of Boston, Massachusetts was because they got CAUGHT, like deer in headlights. They didn’t want to act but they had to because of society’s outrage via The Boston Globe and one very brave Catholic judge in Boston. We, the people, have to keep the pressure on and not be distracted by all their diversionary tactics including the attacks on American Sisters, which I personally view as such a tactic, and individual excommunications here and there.

    On another level, though, we as citizens in a democracy must realize that it is society’s responsibility to protect it most vulnerable members, especially its children. No religious denomination, not synagogue, mosque or cult can or should be depended upon to protect the children. If we didn’t know that before we certainly know it now.

    The PR spin, however, continues.

    Just today Channel 10, the local Philadelphia NBC affiliate, had a reporter and cameraman outside the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul on the Parkway in center city to ask people what they thought of comments on forgiveness made by Pope Francis. I was there in Philly with supporters of legislative reform and one parent whose son, having been sexually abused and introduced to drugs by a trusted priest, committed suicide. That father was interviewed on NBC. Later on our local news just a few minutes after 6 p.m. it was reported that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia released a statement that the diocese goes “above and beyond (Pennsylvania) state law” regarding the sexual abuse of children.

    Not true!

    What is true is that Archbishop Charles Chaput along with the bishops of Pennsylvania and through the lobbying expertise of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference vigorously, aggressively and viciously oppose the removal of statutes of limitation in regard to the sexual abuse of minor children and they continue to oppose a two year window for bringing forward previously time barred cases of childhood sexual abuse, by anyone, in PA as has been the diocese’s pattern of behavior for the past few years. Such behavior is not out of character for Chaput because he has done the same thing in Colorado. He misrepresented proposed bills there and was successful in defeating that bill. Because of that success he is now in Philadelphia doing the same thing.

    What the bishops, and now Pope Francis, seem to forget is that JUSTICE comes before FORGIVNESS. Moreover, really only two can really forgive one who does such a despicable and egregious act; God and the individual violated and that necessitates taking responsibility for one’s crimes and mortal sins (for those errant individuals who still believe in mortal sins) which isn’t easy for a narcissistic sociopath.

    Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
    Advocate for Survivors & Legislative Reform
    New Castle, DE

    1. Sister Maureen, So well said & thank you for being such a wonderful advocate for myself & other survivors & their families. I do hope that the knuckleheads in Harrisburg come to their senses & realize that Chaput is manipulating the lawmakers just as far too often, the news people & the faithful here in philadelphia choose to ignore or pretend the abuse that has been perpetrated never happened. Sister, thanks again so very much!

      Andy Druding

  2. I can’t forgive them; they didn’t sexually abuse me. It’s up to the victims to forgive if they choose to do so. How many pedophile priests have ever asked to be forgiven? I can’t think of any. Please refresh my memory.

    1. drwho13: I seem to recall one priest who wanted to apologize to his victims. The Hierarchy and their lawyers made sure that it never happened. You see an apology to them was an admission of guilt. That would look bad in the courtroom.Myself as a victim would have to see more contrition in actions ,not just words for me to ever forgive them.

      1. Point taken Jim. For the RCC it’s all about PR and winning in court. As for action, I want the Pope to give the People of God the head of at least one bishop just to show he’s serious about taking action.

      2. We’ve had them too in Australia and those who were eventually convicted were set free, not by their relevant bishops or religious superiors. but the judges handing down the sentence.

        1. Unfortunately the prelates too often appear to have covert control of civil authorities. In the case of elected officials, perhaps DA and judges fear the vote of the Pew Sheep. Furthermore, prelates make it a point to get as close to civil authorities (elected or appointed) as they can. I suspect they frequently have memberships in the same country clubs, and civic organizations.

      3. Because it is altogether incongruent that a cleric “in persona Christi” would sexually violate a child, an apology (which admits guilt) is necessarily irreverent, blasphemous, and profane.

        Just one of the theological rationalizations for their unconscionable silence, distance, and denial…

        1. “Theological Rationalizations”………….there you have it, the perfect phrase to describe the decision-making, thinking and conduct of many RCC leaders throughout the USA.

          Thanks, Katherine Fitzgerald…………May I use this phrase in future commentary?

  3. Sr. Maureen, God bless you and protect you. You are my hero. You show such bravery and courage every day. You are giving God a voice in this city. I only wish you could become Bishop of Philadelphia.

  4. I’m so sick and tired of having popes ask forgiveness…distracting pew Catholics with their mea culpas…and insulting the victims and their families.

    If it really is personal, then do what bishops haven’t done…meet with us. Instead of Chaput blowing AOP funds flying to Rome for the pope’s approval, use that money to take care of victims. Perhaps, the Pope should clear his schedule to hear from the victims…I mean, it’s personal…use your time to prove it!

    1. Survivor’s Wife, RIGHT ON SISTER! It enrages me every time I hear that word forgiveness! You put it so well. It is very insulting to every victim who has been sexually abused. The pope needs to take responsibility for his Bishops and the church and NOT look to victims for forgiveness to ease your conscience!

  5. Sister Maureen is right on target when she says that the Bishops and other uncaring clergy have led many people to question their faith and lose their allegiance to the Church. I am struggling more than ever with my beliefs because those who are sending me the information have no credibility in my eyes anymore. My core beliefs are ingrained in me and remain strong, thankfully, but the “doctrine” based stuff…..it’s gone for me. They made it up, not Jesus.

  6. I also want to say thank you Sister Maureen. I am tired of the deceit in the Catholic Church brought on by the leaders of the church. Deceit is the loss of truthfulness and deceit presents images of being real. Deceit is not necessarily lying. It is just not completely honest and real. The Bishops are caught in this trance of deceit, identifying with a particular image, rather than authentic feelings and identity. The Bishops are accustomed to identifying with their performance to the point they do not know who they really are. They have learned to reject their authentic identity and deceived themselves with the new improved and polished picture of themselves. They have developed a self image what they believe is acceptable and worthwhile and then they expect others to support and applaud them.

    Deceit is not even a part of the seven deadly sins: anger, pride, envy, greed, gluttony, lust and sloth. Deceit is sneaky and two-faced. It will stab people in the back without a second thought. It betrays peoples trust and creates this obsession to ruin others so it can triumphant. It has a dark and hidden side which does not like to show itself. Deceit has little remorse and is like crushing a paper cup. It is not apparent to the Bishops that they are deceitful and actually very underdeveloped human beings. The irony is they are now dependent on others to affirm their value just when there is less and less value about them to affirm. So much what others have admired over the years turns out to be a false front, a facade, and the church is collapsing into emptiness.

    I personally feel we need church to support each of us in this search for truth and authenticity. The Catholic Church needs realistic faith, able to support and be supported. I personally have had to move my faith beyond any beliefs, doctrine and learned procedures. Faith needs this unshakable confidence and to be able to know what is true cannot be lost or harmed. Faith is actual support and it moves beyond convincing myself certain beliefs are true. This faith is like the sun. I feel we need this faith that gives an unshakable confidence and truth that gives us value not based on a particular achievement. We need leaders who can speak truth and faith that is experienced from the depths of their heart.

    So I honor your faith and truth Sister Maureen and it is people like you real faith and real authenticity will be born into the Catholic Church. We all say thank you!

    1. Syd: Your words speak volumes. When speaking about the Bishops of the Church you say:” The irony is they are dependent on others to affirm their value just when there is less and less about them to affirm. So much what others have admired over the years turns out to be a false front, a façade, and the Church is collapsing into emptiness.” Wow! For me, your words hit to the crux of the problem with regards to the Hierarchy and why it has been so difficult to see what is right in front of them. That false front you talk about seems so obvious to us as victims and to many others, but they are blind to its presence .They appear to live in some fantasy world, unable and unwilling to face reality. Will it ever happen? Or will the Church continue its descent into its own self made hell.

  7. I am sorry Pope Francis, I am not buying what you are selling today. Just as I was not buying what you were selling a few weeks ago when you claimed that the Church was being unfairly picked on and had done more for victims of abuse than any other organization. It seems to me that you are willing to change your views depending on which way the winds are blowing. I have much more respect for those who stick to their views even when wrong than those who waver back and forth in their beliefs. Which is it? Has the Church done more to help victims or do you need to ask forgiveness from victims for what priests have done to them? I have heard members of the Hierarchy for too long talk about how it is so horrible for clergy members to abuse children while at the same time making it easier for those same clergy to abuse more victims. You can’t have it both ways. It is time for you to decide which team you want to play for. The more you and you Bishops try to play both sides against the middle, the more damage you do not just to victims but to your Church.

  8. Thank you for your words and work, Sr. Maureen.

    How Chaput’s conscience can reconcile his priesthood with the “ministerial expertise” he has cultivated in defeating the removal of statues of limitations is unfathomable. When a priest’s ministerial expertise and fame come in the form of preventing justice and, in effect, re-victimizing victims, does it not render his priesthood duplicitous, phony, deceptive, and fraudulent?

    When Chaput acts to defeat the removal of statues of limitations while simultaneously presiding over a healing Mass, does it not render the healing Mass duplicitous, phony, deceptive, and fraudulent?

    There is no doubt in my mind that these inconsistent actions register on the Chaput and Francis radars. There is also no doubt in my mind that, for centuries, clerics have commonly functioned according to inconsistent actions, indeed, they define clericalism. Over the centuries, clerics have acquired a sort of mental and spiritual immunity to the egregiousness of them.

    “Little monsters.”

  9. Does Pope Francis or Archbishop Chaput truly have any clue what they maybe asking forgiveness for ? Are they asking me or anyone else who has been abused to accept what I consider a meaningless apology ? Francis or Chaput did not abuse me so they have nothing to say sorry for.

    Now, if they are asking for forgiveness for what roles they played in allowing fr.Hermley to abuse me, or the roles they played in hiding abusive priests or destroying important documents or fighting to change the SOL laws then I might be interested in listening.

    However, I do not want any letter or anything that I might read or hear in the media. I want what some may seem the impossible. I want either of these two men to face me so I can look in their eyes and see how sincere they are about this so called forgiveness they are asking for.

    It is what every abuse victim is entitled to.

    If not, they may as well ask forgiveness for being the second shooter on the grassy knoll !!!

  10. What does the pope mean ? When do the punishments begin ? The pope/vatican/ hierarchy already know who the perps are like bernie law among others. This is just another “BS” stall tactic, until the laws are changed the perps enjoy a life they deprived their Victims of !

    1. “What does the pope mean?” “When do the punishments begin?”

      What about the “sanctions”?

      Does it occur to Francis that the canonizations of Popes John XXIII and John Paul II on April 27th make his words and promises hollow and meaningless? Both popes had knowledge of priestly sexual abuse, and both popes colluded and conspired to hide it. When confronted with this knowledge, Francis explained that sainthood does not depend on the quality of a man’s papacy, rather it depends on a man’s holiness. But wouldn’t a holy man’s papacy result in holiness? Doesn’t an unholy papacy point to an unholy man?

      “One may safely affirm that all popular theology has a kind of appetite for absurdity and contradiction…” (David Hume, philosopher)

      To launch “absurdity and contradiction” at victims is unholy and unconscionable.

      Major, MAJOR, error our Church will make on April 27th.

  11. All this pushes me further and further away. Trying to hang onto what I thought was central but all this doctrine is a sick joke. I tried to forgive my perp realizing he was a sick individual but that fell apart when I found out there were so many more victims.
    I will never forgive those that protected him, moved him from parish to parish . They were worse monsters

  12. Thank you, Katherine for your statement below.

    “How Chaput’s conscience can reconcile his priesthood with the “ministerial expertise” he has cultivated in defeating the removal of statues of limitations is unfathomable.”

    Has Chaput ever been asked or has he ever said why he does not want the SOL removed? Don’t we all agree that he should provide an explanation for this? I wish that I could force a truthful answer out of him. In light of this, how dare he hold a Healing Mass? How could anyone even try to heal if they were abused by someone who cannot be called on the carpet because of the SOL. He is a very pompous man to say the least. He may think he’s clever, but we “get it.”

      1. Thanking you, Szupt, drwho13, and all the wonderful people on this page! (Also, Katherine, for you statement ABOVE, not below, as I stated in error.) I am back to Chaput’s stand on the SOL. Is there a petition on that? And has he ever made any statements about his stand? I need to know – it’s making me outraged, AGAIN! Thanks!

        1. MC, the reason Chaput makes every effort to defeat changes in SOL legislation is because it would cost the Church mega-$$$. It’s the same reason insurance companies make every effort to defeat SOL changes as well. For both, it’s a purely fiscal matter. The lack of accountability and justice are appalling. BUT, were you to get Chaput to speak on the matter, you would get a whole lot of convoluted double-speak. The convoluted double-speak would entail a mix of defensive language, denial language, irrelevant language, and absurd and contradicting theological language, all delivered in a carefully orchestrated and contrived pastoral tone that is intended to make the dizzy and frustrated listener go away believing that, somehow, someway, somewhere along the line, he and his “reasoning” are compassionate and moral.

          You are so right, MC. We “get it.” And, we are doing something about it.

          1. MC, secondary to it being a fiscal matter, is the matter of saving priesthoods.

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