By Matthew Cardoza
The international spotlight has been cast on the Catholic Church due to revelations from a report by the Pennsylvania Grand Jury that accused 300 priests of molesting more than 1,000 children in six archdioceses since the 1950s. This news shocked the world as many questioned how this many children could be subjected to such abuse for a long period of time.
In response to this explosive report, some have called on Pope Francis to resign from the papacy—a position he’s held since March 2013. They claim he has not done enough to mend the issue.
These incidents have existed in different countries as well. A similar situation emerged in Ireland. Since the 1980s, there have been allegations against Irish Catholic priests for sexually assaulting children and then covering up their acts.
Reports on the matter started to come to light around 2005. This explains why some people in Ireland chose to protest the Pope’s recent arrival to the country.
Some, like child abuse survivor Margaret McGuckin, wanted the Pope and the Catholic Church not to forget what the survivors went through, “The Pope now needs to stand up to the plate and do something for the survivors. We need redress, we need the church held to account,” she said.
That’s not to say the Pope hasn’t done anything to address the situation. He has come out in support of the victims affected by the senseless actions of particular priests.
In an open letter, he stated: “We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them,” he continued. “The extent and the gravity of all that has happened requires coming to grips with this reality in a comprehensive and communal way. While it is important and necessary on every journey of conversation to acknowledge the truth of what has happened, in itself this is not enough.”
In my eyes, it’s better to admit faults and begin working toward a solution, which the Pope has done in recent months, when he defrocked Fernando Karadima, a Chilean priest. Karadima came under fire for sexually assaulting and abusing teenage boys. In 2011, Karadima was called out on allegations of abuse, but he was not defrocked at the time.
The Pope, in this matter, has taken steps to address the sexual abuse scandal. Should he have taken steps before? If he knew about the abuses taking place from the start of his papal term, then yes, he should have.
However, the Pope and the Vatican can’t be the only ones taking steps to make sure incidents like these don’t happen again. Similar to there being so many police officers and stations in a single country, the Pope’s job isn’t to micromanage every single archdiocese or every single priest the world. It should be the job of the respective religious organization, which in the report by the Pennsylvania Grand Jury was not the case.
As a Roman Catholic myself, I have loved the job Pope Francis has done in discussing issues such as the environment and income inequality. I hope that this horrific incident revolving young children can show Pope Francis to be a Pope that can truly do right by the people, especially those who had to deal with the abuse from priests, and hopefully he can put a stop to this horrible string of abuse.