Pope Francis – time to actually live up to your warm n’ fuzzy image

Via the Guardian:

“In grimly worded findings released by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, the watchdog urged the Holy See to “immediately remove all known and suspected child sexual abusers” from their posts in the church and hand over the cases to law enforcement authorities in the countries concerned.

It also asked the Vatican to ensure that an expert commission set up by Pope Francis last year will “investigate independently” all cases of child sex abuse and the way in which they are handled by the Catholic hierarchy. Records concerning past cases should be opened up so that they can be used to hold the abusers – and those who may have sought to protect them – accountable, the panel added.

The Holy See must establish “clear rules, mechanisms and procedures” for the mandatory reporting of all suspected cases of abuse to civil law enforcement authorities, it said.

The committee said it was “particularly concerned” that in dealing with allegations of child sex abuse, “the Holy See has consistently placed the preservation of the reputation of the church and the protection of the perpetrators above children‘s best interests, as observed by several national commissions of inquiry.”

We’re all aware that Pope Francis is a different kettle of fish to Ratzinger, but it remains to be seen whether he can use his post to take meaningful action against the culture of rape and abuse that’s infested his organisation beyond living memory. Successive Popes have had the opportunity (and certainly the responsibility) to do so; none so far have had significant success.

Francis and the Vatican have an opportunity, while the world watches closer than ever before, not just to clear out the rot, end the hypocrisy and cooperate with law enforcement, but to institute a new culture of honesty and transparency. I realise that the pace of progress is usually glacial in the Holy See (it did take four centuries to excuse Galileo for his crime of “being right about space”), but perhaps that’s the first thing that should change.

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