Pope Addresses Clergy Abuse Victims in Philadelphia

Excerpt from ABC.com, Sept. 27, 2015
Pope Francis met with victims of clerical sex abuse today and promised to hold those responsible accountable.

The 30 minute meeting was with five adults who had suffered sexual abuse as minors by the clergy or members of their family or teachers, according to the Vatican. The meeting, held on his final day in the United States, also included a family member of each victim.

Later, while addressing U.S. bishops attending the World Meeting of Families, Francis renewed his promise that those responsible will be punished.

“I carry in my heart the stories, the suffering and the pain of the minors that have been sexually abused by priests,” Francis said. “I’m overwhelmed by the shame that people who were in charged of caring for those young ones raped them and caused them great damages.”
“I regret this profoundly. God cries!” he continued. “The crimes and sins of the sexual abuse to minors can’t be kept a secret anymore. I commit to the zealous oversight of the Church to protect minors, and I promise that everyone responsible will be held accountable.”

16 thoughts on “Pope Addresses Clergy Abuse Victims in Philadelphia

  1. Thank Goodness. I’ve been extremely upset and outraged since the article earlier in the week in which the Pope had spoken about Bishops, not victims. My heart is a lighter lighter now, and more importantly, the issues has actually been addressed! Where he or the Church will go from here, I don’t know. I have some faith in the Pope now that something, even anything, will be achieved from his comments on 9/27/15. I pray that I am not disappointed again.

  2. Relieved Pope Francis addressed the 800 lb. gorilla in the room. Finally. LLW mirrors my feelings closely. Now I’ll be grateful, pray and hope it’s not just words. The laity needs to get more involved in the issue of abuse. Concerns me the Church is very active in human trafficking but nothing like that is out there for the tens of thousands abused by family or teachers.

  3. I am not holding my breath or holding out much hope.

    It seems the word of the year will be accountable but are we not looking for the other word the catholic church used “transparent” I’m still waiting for that to happen.

  4. Is he holding himself accountable for the violation of children under his own watch when he was in Argentina?

  5. Millions of children are sexually molested by clergy and he meets with five 2 , only abused by priests. We are complete fools to think ” anything ” will ever be done to help those unknowingly waitng in the wings t o b e abused! I CALL ON GOD THIS MOMENT TO DO SOMETHING!. HE SAYS ” Vengence. is mine, ” Id like to see it Now Lord! That’s my prayer!ll gloria

  6. Michael Skiendzielewski · Saint Joseph’s University

    Bishop Fitzgerald, CIVIL ATTORNEY, first director of the Office of Legal Services at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 1990 under Cardinal Bevilacqua, told this writer after the release of the first Grand Jury Report in clergy sexual abuse that his office never received, processed, or handled the allegations of sexual abuse that were filed with the archdiocese.

    Now, he is the head of the Office of the Protection of Minors in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Wonder, after 25 years, if he is still NOT receiving allegations of clergy sexual abuse of children.

    Is he acting in the best interests of children or acting in the best interests of his boss, Charles Chaput?

  7. It is my deepest hope that Francis is speaking the truth. In all the other issues that he addressed in the US, he seems to have dealt with the essence of the hurt and pain. Those were easier to discern. Is there any other offering of hope? Lets hope together!

  8. I attended the Independence Hall event and the Festival of Families on Saturday. A few comments from the eyes of a “survivor” –

    [1] Unrelated to the issue here but the City of Philadelphia never looked better! People smiling and friendly. SEPTA workers saying Good Morning and guiding people to the nearest Wawa for coffee. Police officers giving directions and saying Welcome. At Independence Hall, the Pope stopped about 30 feet in front of us but, being “vertically challenged, I was not able to get a good picture. The lady in front of us stood on her chair and got great pics – which she then showed to us and gave us her email address so she could send us copies! Let’s hope this spirit continues.

    [2] I was in the city with a dear friend who has been a great support to me. The Pope spoke often this week about love and the expressions of it. I could think of no other person that I would have wanted to experience Saturday with than my friend who I truly love for her understanding, compassion and concern.

    [3] What struck me the most was the feeling that these people – the thousands upon thousands of them – are the Catholic Church. I have said it recently but it is not a man in a white robe, or clerics in black – it is us. And if there is power in numbers, we have it. I believe Pope Francis recognizes that. From his remarks to abuse victims to his homily yesterday where words such as this were used – ‘For Jesus, the intolerable scandal is all that corrupts and destroys our confidence in this mode of action of the Spirit’ – there were direct and indirect references to the problems of the church. I think he “gets it” and is taking steps to bring about change. Maybe not the avalanche of change we all desire – but change. On the bus ride home – several people were talking about the days events. All were moved – including myself. These are good people – committed to their faith. They are people who can make change in the church – people like my friend who’s commitment to the Catholic Church is to be celebrated but still asks the questions – “how did this happen to you?” – “why didn’t he go to jail?” and “its not fair that he just walks the streets – a free man.” This is our future – to be committed but not be afraid to question – to initiate change.

    At Independence Hall, Pope Francis led us in the Our Father. 50,000+ people reciting a prayer in different languages. It was a goosebump moment for me – for at that moment – he and Chaput and any other Church official was just like me – reciting words that I had learned in the 1st grade. My prayer was just as important as theirs.

    Do not be discouraged – we are the Church – and it was never more evident than this weekend.

  9. C4C readers may find of interest the new National Catholic Reporter comment of Danno below. It is very moving. Danno is an unjustly treated buse survivor from Milwaukee and is described in the in the recent NY Times article linked below.
    Many thanks, Jerry

    DANNO: “The survivors of abuse have become true heralds of hope and ministers of mercy,” he said. “Humbly we owe each of them and their families our gratitude for their immense courage

    in making Christ’s light to shine upon the evil of sexual abuse of
    Pope Francis thank you for showing your gratitude to us light shiners by……………

    Allowing 570 of us light shiners to be re victimized in the Milwaukee Archdiocese ruthless bankruptcy. You watched as your archbishop, Listecki invited us to come forward for healing and resolution and when we did he spent five years and 30 million dollars on legal efforts to throw every single one of our claims out. Pope Francis thanks for doing nothing but watching then stepping around the human wreckage.

    Pope Francis thank you for showing your gratitude to us light shiners by……………

    Allowing disgraced church leaders like Archbishop John Neinstedt, Cardinal Roger Mahony and Cardinal Justin Rigali, the men responsible for the shattered lives of many, to be treated as dignitaries and rewarded with VIP access and welcomed into exclusive places like the White House to publically celebrate papal festivities.

    Pope Francis thank you for showing your gratitude to us light shiners by……………

    Con-celebrating masses with disgraced church leaders like Cardinal Roger Mahony and Cardinal Justin Rigali. The ones that hurt so many should be rewarded with such high honors, how disrespectful to victims! Thanks for sending the message that no matter how much that you have deceived your flock or endangered their children. No matter how much that you have lied, cheated and re-victimized clergy sexual assault victims.
    You will be treated as a dignitary and are rewarded with honors during church celebrations.

    Pope Francis thank you for showing your gratitude to us light shiners by……………

    Saying these unbelievably inappropriate words to US bishops on Wednesday;

    “Conscious of the courage with which you have faced difficult moments in the recent history
    of the church in this country without fear of self-criticism and at the cost of
    mortification and great sacrifice. I realize how much the pain of recent years has weighed upon you, and I have supported your generous commitment to bring healing to victims – in the knowledge that in healing we too are healed – and to work to ensure that such
    crimes will never be repeated.”

    Many words can be used to describe the US bishop’s response to the sexual
    assault of children. None of them would include courage, sacrifice or a
    commitment to bring healing to victims. I am a Milwaukee victim who is still being put
    through hell by the ruthless and unholy actions of Listecki and Dolan. Words
    cannot describe how repulsed, hurt and betrayed that I feel by Francis and his
    hurtful words praising Listecki, Dolan and the US bishops who have caused so
    much more pain to so many.

    Francis keep your gratitude and thanks for creating even more pain and betrayal for child victims of clergy rape.

    It is no wonder it is almost impossible to heal from clergy abuse in this organization.


  10. I attended the Papal visit both days. I was initially pleased with his comment regarding sexual crimes against minors, however I see that Cardinal Rigali was on the alter, so I feel the message is hollow. It is those involved in the cover up of these crimes that need to be punished, yet having a retired cardinal who has a history of cover up occurring during his watch should not have bee invited to participate in the Mass, when the pope appeared to be making a no tolerance message. Much has been published about Cardinal Rigali’s failure to police clergy in St. Louis and Philadelphia. We remember famous remarks during his tenure in Philadelphia that there was no clergy involved in sexual abuse, only to have him proven wrong a few weeks later is but one example. The cardinal placed suspected priests in positions near children, even to a pastor role. He accepted money to build a church from the exact type of capitalist the pope spoke out against, a banker who had states attorneys’ general after him,

    You know Blessed Bishop Sheen had it right. We are displeasing God to such a great extent, we need a woman to crush the head of the serpent before its too late (Life is Worth Living p207)

  11. I wanted to post the following comment here the same comment I left on 6ABC regarding a statement Chaput made today 9/28.

    How do I put this the most polite way as possible. CHAPUT”S AN ASS ! When someone starts off saying the Pope’s remarks regarding clergy sexual abuse ” wasn’t a publicity stunt”. You know it was.

    Then Chaput makes another statement saying ” There is genuine interest on the part of the Holy Father to represent the whole church in expressing sadness and apology in cases where there’s cases of sexual abuse by members of the church, and he sincerely meant that,” Chaput said. But If a bill was introduced tomorrow to change the statute of limitation laws Chaput would be the first to send his high priced lawyers to fight against it. That does not seem like a apology to me but another slap in the face.

    Archbishop Chaput because we were victims of childhood sexual abuse by clergy of the archdiocese of Philadelphia please do not ever let it enter into your mind that our abuse we suffered as children has made us stupid adults. We can read between your lines when nobody else can.

  12. Finally we have a pope who seems to ‘get this’ but too little, too late. With their carefully calculated secrecy and milti million dollar courtroom antics many victims continue to suffer in silence thanks to the church lobbying for no extension to the statute of limitations. The abusers will have their judgment day.

  13. Thank you, Susan for your hard work in finding articles and keeping us informed. We need to continue to shine a light on this horrible episode. To hear on KYW newsradio that the pope was ‘deeply troubled’ by the secrecy of abuse while was driving home from sunday mass made me cry. The pope should not be deeply troubled by his own priests and bishops. Make every one of the bishops and enablers accountable and make them pay each survivor for whatever therapy and recovery of lost wages that they require due to having their lives shattered.

  14. I’m “deeply troubled”. EVERY DAY of my life since my violation 47 years ago.
    How’s that for one upping you pope?

  15. I don’t want a pope’s gratitude. I want justice. When he can come up to speed with that, he may be deemed fit to serve as a spiritual leader. Until then, he’s just a man with a title.

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