Outdated standards used as defense by Catholic Church
On Tuesday, Pope Francis provoked indignation with his statements about the latest reports of child abuse by the Catholic Church. Though he acknowledged that “young people are scandalized,” he also diminished the significance of the revelations by repeatedly emphasizing the unfairness of applying modern standards to the abuses.
After reports of more than 3,600 cases of child abuse by the Catholic Church in Germany surfaced, both members and non-members of the Church demanded an increase in accountability measures.
Since then, though, Francis has failed to make a decisive statement regarding the accusations, which has resulted in a loss of trust in the Church, particularly among Catholic youth. Catholic speaker Katie Prejean McGrady stated that, “to rebuild that trust, young people want assurance, and action plans, to ensure this never happens again.”
However, even after the Pope’s statements at a press conference covering his four-day trip to Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, there seems to be little, if any, increase in transparency. In addressing the abuses, he referred to the molestations as an event of another time in which “these things were covered up.”
But the Pope himself has also been accused of masking these abuses. In August, a former Vatican official accused Francis of covering up the sexual misconduct of a disgraced ex-cardinal.
Francis acknowledged that the Catholic Church’s abuses were “the most scandalous” of any child abuses because the Church “should bring children to God and not destroy them.” However, he previously stated that it was Satan who was “attacking the bishops of the Catholic Church to create scandal.”
Critics now wonder whether the Church will take suggested “outside help” from the state in the overseeing of its clergy. It remains to be seen whether the Church will use these revelations to initiate reform, or if it will continue to straddle the line between making excuses and holding offenders accountable.