Let’s see now. You are the titular head of a religious organization that talks a good game about virtue, morality and the dangers of sin, and it has been shaken to its core by an ongoing scandal involving thousands of officials sexually molesting hundreds of thousands of children while your organization not only covered up the crimes, but facilitated them. After the latest outbreak of this decades—centuries?—long scandal, you declared that your organization would regain the trust of its members by reversing its previous corrupt practices, and send clear messages that the conduct that endangered and damaged children would not be tolerated.
Then, when one of the highest officials in your organization offers his resignation after being convicted in a court of law for failing to stop one of the ongoing molesters despite knowledge of his vile activities, you refuse to accept that resignation.
What sense does this make? This is a fair summary of Pope Francis’s recent decision to reject the resignation of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin despite his conviction this month for covering up decades-old allegations of sexual abuse by a priest in his diocese. The only way it makes sense is if the Pope doesn’t comprehend the seriousness of the sex abuse scandal, and still places loyalty to the church and his colleagues above the welfare of victims past, present and future.
The Vatican announced that Barbarin, one of the highest-ranking and best-known Roman Catholic officials in France, will step aside for an unspecified length of time. Cardinal Barbarin said in in his own statement that the Pope had acted “invoking the presumption of innocence.” Uh, guys? “Presumption of innocence” only applied before an accused individual has been convicted in a court of law. At this point, he should be presumed guilty. Indeed, given how many Catholic priests and officials have conspired to sexually abuse children over the years while the Church looked the other way, I am tempted to say that it would be reasonable to presume that any Catholic priest is a predator, or at least to fear he might be.
It was just a few weeks ago that the Pope completes a conference with church leaders from around the world on how the Catholic Church should deal with the still throbbing scandal. The Church’s bishops were urged to take the issue seriously—how could they not take the issue seriously?– and to stop protecting their own, putting children at risk around the globe, as well as undermining the Church’s credibility and authority. Hearing this, Pope Francis nodded, thought deeply, and decided the best way to proceed was to allow a Cardinal convicted of doing exactly that to keep his job, and to send the message that he and his Church do not take the issue seriously enough.
What a good plan!
Anne Barrett Doyle is co-director of the advocacy group BishopAccountability.org, and she said, in response to the Pope’s bone-headed and depressing action;
“Pope Francis’ decision to refuse Cardinal Barbarin’s resignation today is a depressing reminder of the pope’s autocratic disregard for victims,Once again, Francis is standing by a complicit bishop and dismissing the testimony of survivors.”
It’s pretty hard to disagree with that.
Source: New York Times