Pope Francis Sets Up Advisory Commission on Sex Abuse

According to a CNN article by Hada Messia, Click Here the Vatican under Pope Francis is setting up a commission to prevent the abuse of minors and to support victims of abuse. Boston Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, a member of the G’8 eight’member Council of Cardinal Advisers from around the world to Pope Francis made the announcement. The eight member council of advisers is helping the Pope to implement reform of the Vatican.

The new commission is expected to tell church officials to collaborate with civil authorities and report cases of abuse, O’Malley said. Included in their scope of work will be the development of guidelines, priest formation programs, codes of conduct, and screening candidates for priesthood.

SNAP, the U.S. based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests has commented that the creation of another commission surveying bishops and recommending policies is meaningless.
SNAP has called for more decisive action and allowing clergy sex abuse cases to be handled by secular authorities.

ReGAIN Comment:

The intent of having a commission to prevent the abuse of minors and to support victims of abuse is excellent and encouraging to see. However, in the past, Vatican officials and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have been seen as secretive and evasive and overly soft in dealing with criminal behavior among their own. One of the most famous cases in this regard is that of Father Marcial Maciel, who was able to carry on his secret life as an abuser for nearly all of his adult life, yet was praised by members of the Vatican hierarchy including Pope John Paul II and protected and shielded by others.

Father Maciel was sentenced to live the rest of his life in repentance and prayer but until after his death and the discovery of his mistresses and children, the Legion leaders continued to pretend that he was an innocent victim of slander by detractors, who were out to damage the Legion and the Church. The Legionary founder’s guilt or innocence in any of the particular accusations was left up to peoples’ imagination. Later it became obvious that at least some of the Legion leaders had known about Father Maciel’s secret life but chose to remain silent about it. Even after it was obvious that Father Maciel had been guilty of criminal behavior in a general sense, there were no details about specific cases released. As a result, the Legion got away with a very general statement of apology expressing sorrow in a general sense for what their founder had done to some unnamed people. Because Father Maciel was shielded by the Legion leaders and by some members of the Church hierarchy, his fans and more loyal followers continued to see him as a sort of romantic figure who had fallen in love and had a secret affair with one woman. Based on information on this website and many others, Father Maciel started molesting young boys who had been entrusted to his care in the 1940’s and continued such behavior for many decades.

The reform of the Legion and Regnum Christi is nearly complete and there has been minimal concern shown to date for Father Maciel’s victims. Although an unknown number between twenty and one hundred of his victims of pedophilia were interviewed during the 2005 ? 2006 investigation carried out by Msgr Scicluna (now bishop of Malta) details of that investigation have been kept secret. The May 2010 Vatican communique made it clear that Father Maciel was immoral, devoid of scruple and of genuine religious sentiment. However, until it becomes public what he did to whom and who aided him and covered for him within the Legion and the Church hierarchy, there is general feeling that justice has not been fully served. Should the Catholic Church not be seen as exemplary when it comes to justice?

ReGAIN sincerely wishes that the new commission appointed by Pope Francis will initiate positive changes in the attitudes and actions of the Catholic Church so that they will improve the accountability of bishops who protect pedophile priests and will show a genuine interest in restorative justice for victims. There is an excellent opportunity in the case of the Legionaries of Christ for the Pope to demonstrate such interest in justice by reopening the inquiry into Father Maciel’s crimes to determine which leaders in the Legion aided and abetted their pedophile founder and holding them accountable.

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