US Bench: "We Stand With" B16
On behalf of the Catholic bishops of the United States, we, the members of the Executive Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, write both to express our deep concern for those harmed by the crime and sin of sexual abuse by clergy and to express our profound gratitude for the assistance that Pope Benedict XVI has given us in our efforts to respond to victims, deal with perpetrators and to create safe environments for children. The recent emergence of more reports of sexual abuse by clergy saddens and angers the Church and causes us shame. If there is anywhere that children should be safe, it should be in their homes and in the Church.
We know from our experience how Pope Benedict is deeply concerned for those who have been harmed by sexual abuse and how he has strengthened the Church’s response to victims and supported our efforts to deal with perpetrators. We continue to intensify our efforts to provide safe environments for children in our parishes and schools. Further, we work with others in our communities to address the prevalence of sexual abuse in the larger society.
One of the most touching moments of the Holy Father’s visit to the United States in 2008 was his private conversation with victims/survivors at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington. Pope Benedict heard firsthand how sexual abuse has devastated lives. The Holy Father spoke with each person and provided every one time to speak freely to him. They shared their painful experiences and he listened, often clasping their hands and responding tenderly and reassuringly.
With the support of both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI, we bishops have made a vigorous commitment to do everything in our power to prevent abuse from happening to children. We live out this commitment through the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which calls us to respond with compassion to victims/survivors, to work diligently to screen those working with children and young people in the Church, to provide child abuse awareness and prevention education, to report suspected abuse to civil law enforcement, and to account for our efforts to protect children and youth through an external annual national audit.
As we accompany Christ in His passion and death during this Holy Week, we stand with our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI in prayer for the victims of sexual abuse, for the entire Church and for the world.
Cardinal Francis George, OMI
Archbishop of Chicago
Bishop Gerald Kicanas
Bishop of Tucson
Bishop George Murry, SJ
Bishop of Youngstown
Archbishop Joseph Kurtz
Archbishop of Louisville
Bishop Arthur Serratelli
Bishop of Paterson
In an NPR op-ed today, David Clohessy of the Survivors' Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said that "if the pope were to step down, like Cardinal Bernard Law did in Boston, it would create the illusion of reform while decreasing the chances of real reform" (emphases original).
A papal departure, Clohessy said, "would foster the tempting but naive view that change is happening. It would not address the deeply rooted, unhealthy, systemic dysfunctions that plague any medieval institution that vests virtually all power in a pope who allegedly supervises 5,000 bishops across the planet."
Further underscoring the challenge for the Holy See and its message operation -- its effectiveness of late a worthy topic for discussion -- a poll commissioned by Ireland's Independent newspaper and reported in its Sunday editions found that 51 percent of Irish surveyed thought the pontiff should leave office, something no Pope has done since the early 15th century.
The same poll found over three-quarters of respondents calling for the resignation of Cardinal Sean Brady of Armagh, who's come under heavy fire on the Isle in recent weeks for aspects of his administrative role in a 1970s canonical process against an accused priest, a controversy then compounded by fresh disclosures that Ireland's primatial see has paid more to the legal team handling its case-load than its total settlements with victim-survivors who've filed suit.