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Dear Pope: It’s Me Again

Apr 19, 2010 — Categories: , ,

I’m still waiting for your call, but in the meantime, I’m quite happy to provide you with a free consultation because it’s so important that you get this right. So let me suggest some fine tuning to your efforts this past week. Please pass this memo on to your PR people.

I’m still waiting for your call, but in the meantime, I’m quite happy to provide you with a free consultation because it’s so important that you get this right.

So let me suggest some fine tuning to your efforts this past week. Please pass this memo on to your PR people.

  1. Stop talking about being “under attack.” “Now, under attack from the world which talks to us of our sins, we can see that being able to do penance is a grace and we see how necessary it is to do penance and thus recognize what is wrong in our lives,” the pope said at a mass in the Vatican.
    The public, survivors and the media lifting up the sins of the church is not an attack. It is truth-telling and an opportunity for it the take a hard look at itself in order to repent. It is Nathan’s voice: “You are the men.” Every time you lead with being “under attack,” you signal the Vatican’s defensiveness and undercut any sincerity of your own self-awareness and repentance.
  2. Penance is not just about seeing what we have done. It is about action to address the injustice and harm we have caused.
    It’s not “the Church” that needs to do penance. It’s individual bishops and priests, yourself included, who need to name it and claim it: you screwed up, big time. Perhaps out of ignorance, perhaps out of malice. But that doesn’t matter to the thousands of people who suffer still from your missteps and acts of abuse.
  3. Clarifying your reporting policy is a step in the right direction. But let’s clarify your policy even further. “The Vatican on Monday responded to allegations it long concealed clerical sex abuse by making it clear for the first time that bishops and clerics worldwide should report such crimes to police if they are required to by law.”
    This just says you now plan to follow the law in whatever jurisdiction the church is in. But there are states in the U.S. where clergy are not required to report child abuse. [That’s another discussion] What you need to make clear is that it is the Church’s policy to report the abuse of children regardless of the requirements of the law because it is the right thing to do and the only way to even have a chance to protect other children from harm. This policy would tell us that you are serious about intervening to stop abuse of kids.
  4. Keep meeting with survivors as you did in Malta.
    You should meet with survivors every day for the rest of your life. You should have to look them in the eyes, see their pain, and make yourself accountable to them because you do represent the whole Church to them. Next Lent, it is their feet you should wash. And every Lent thereafter.
  5. Finally, stop talking about homosexuality as the cause of pedophile priests.
    “The Vatican's second-highest authority says the sex scandals haunting the Roman Catholic Church are linked to homosexuality and not celibacy among priests.
    Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's secretary of state, made the comments during a news conference Monday in Chile, where one of the church's highest-profile pedophile cases involves a priest having sex with young girls.
    ‘Many psychologists and psychiatrists have demonstrated that there is no relation between celibacy and pedophilia. But many others have demonstrated, I have been told recently, that there is a relation between homosexuality and pedophilia. That is true," said Bertone. "That is the problem.’”
    Really. This just makes your people look ill-informed and ingenuous. It is another tired, old smoke screen. You have gay priests and straight priests. And you have priests that have abused children and adults in both groups. Get over it and get on to addressing the problem of abuse by clergy.

So call me. I’m waiting by my cell phone.

Rev. Dr. Marie M. Fortune
Founder and Senior Analyst
FaithTrust Institute

Document Actions

Thank you! Gracias! Danke! Merci!

Posted by Dr. Duly at Apr 21, 2010 11:35 AM
Right on!

Another Issue for Papa!!

Posted by Tony Robertson at Apr 22, 2010 12:14 PM
Thanks Marie for this creative and honest challenge to the Pope. I have a couple of other thoughts re the public response of the Church to this crisis. Should the Pope in fact abandon the title of "Holy Father" as a penitential act in recognition the failure of the papacy to address clergy sexual abue and episcopal cover-ups? He will still be known as the Bishop of Rome and hold the pre-eminant position that comes with that role in Church governance.

A second consideration for Australians is that Pope Benedict is due to canonise Australia's first saint, Blesssed Mary MacKillop in October. Given Mary's concern for the welfare and protection of children in stark contrast to the Pope's failure to work from a preferential option for the protection of children, I proose that he appoint a Cardinalin good standing to lead the ceremony of Canonistion as another act of public penance.

response to latest blog

Posted by Rev. Amy Jo Jones at Apr 22, 2010 12:14 PM
Thanks for hitting the nail on the head.

Thoughts for the future... for those of us who have been personally affected by this issue...

It is just as important to confront our own emotional/spiritual response and seek healing as it is to confront the abuser. However, to confront the abuser and EXPECT repentance or an apology to be forthcoming as a means for healing to occur within us... it is an exercise in futility. The most important outcome is that the victims seek healing and wholeness. It is possible.


Posted by Mary E. Hunt at May 18, 2010 12:57 PM
Good advice, Marie. He would do well to follow your wisdom.

If he calls me first I'll be sure he has your number. MEH