By Betty Clermont | 10 February 2023
The Open Tabernacle
“Pope Says Homosexuality Not a Crime,” the AP headlined on Jan. 25, reporting on their interview a day earlier with the pontiff. “Pope Says Homosexuality is Not a Crime” headlined The New York Times and The Washington Post the same morning. “Pope Francis says laws that criminalize homosexuality are ‘unjust’” was the lede to the PBS Nightly News segment that evening.
It’s difficult to imagine the U.S. media would give prominence to such an obvious and vapid pronouncement by any public figure other than this pope.
“The pope says a lot of truly wonderful things in his interview with the AP. However … he has said many times that homosexual acts are sinful and that marriage is between a man and a woman – a view he repeated this past week, as well. He has also not changed the language of the Catechism of the Catholic Church [this “sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex” is “objectively disordered”] despite repeated calls for him to do so,” the National Catholic Register noted on Feb. 6.
While the Holy Father’s January interview with The Associated Press yielded some encouraging words, some of his actions make it difficult to interpret his intentions….https://t.co/utDX7eOrHo
— National Catholic Register (@NCRegister) February 7, 2023
That’s why Pope Francis and his supporters like Fr. James Martin and Cardinal Robert McElroy have steadfastly refused to support sacramental marriage for same-sex couples.
The U.S. media also chose to ignore the segment of the same AP interview where “Francis acknowledged the Catholic Church still had a long way to go to deal with [sex abuse], saying more transparency was needed and that Church leaders must speak out more about abuse of ‘vulnerable adults.’” Not only did the pope deflect attention away from his refusal to protect our children from rape and torture, but he also could be confident that he would not be challenged by the interviewer.
In Contrast: Coverage by the Foreign Media
“It’s your duty to protect children,” Tim Law, founder of Ending Clergy Abuse, told Pope Francis via a press conference in Kinshasa on Jan. 30, the day before the pope arrived in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as reported by Agence-France-Presse.
“A girl identified as Marie told reporters by video conference how she was raped nearly two years ago by a priest from the Tshumbe diocese at the age of 14.” Marie said she had informed the Church authorities in Congo. Since then, “I am not living in safety, everyone around me is under threat,” she said as quoted by AFP.
A Church source told AFP “the priest has been suspended [even though] the Vatican probe found no evidence.”
“Pope Francis, the youth are counting on you because living in poverty, they are at the mercy of predators,” Law said. “Victims have to be respected, not punished,” he added. Law and a Congolese association fighting sexual abuse also called on Pope Francis to sanction the priest.
On Feb. 2, “around two dozen activists and sexual abuse victims demonstrated in Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital across the road from a cathedral where Pope Francis was meeting clergy. They held up placards, some demanding that the pope meet with clergy abuse victims in the country,” Benoit Nyemba, correspondent for the Reuters DRC bureau, reported. About 50% of the DRC population is Roman Catholic, Nyemba noted.
“One demonstrator, Benjamin Kitobo, said he was abused when he was a boy in the city of Kolwezi. He said the priest who allegedly abused him was later allowed to return to ministry,” Nyemba wrote.
As the child sexual abuse story was uncovered in the developed world, we wondered what was happening in less developed nations. Turns out, much of the same.
Activists urge Pope to sanction Democratic Republic of Congo priest accused of sex abuse https://t.co/PvKeUbtn5I
— Peter Fox 🦊🦘 (@Peter_Fox59) January 31, 2023
Pope Francis did not meet with any clergy abuse victims in the DRC nor did he acknowledge their suffering.
The Pope’s Personal Contempt for Children
Only two days before the “Homosexual Not a Crime” headline, the Italian Vatican reporter Andrea Gagliarducci reminded us that Pope Francis had personally protected serial abusers and rapists. “The Papacy of the media emphasizes the punitive decisions of Pope Francis but at the same time hides his most contentious decisions,” Gagliarducci wrote.
Fr. Julio César Grassi
Before Pope Francis’ election as pope, while he was Jorge Mario Bergoglio, cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires, Fr. Julio César Grassi was arrested and charged with 17 counts of sexual abuse of three boys who lived in a home for street children that Grassi founded. After Grassi’s conviction in 2009, Bergoglio commissioned a secret study to persuade Supreme Court judges of Grassi’s innocence.
“Bergoglio’s intervention is believed to be at least part of the reason that Grassi remained free for more than four years following his conviction.” He was finally sent to jail in September 2013 according to BishopAccountaiblity.org.
Gustavo Vera is a longtime friend and associate of Pope Francis who nicknamed him "God's Trotsky". Natacha Jaitt also mentioned Bergoglio's, known as Pope Francis, well-documented attempt to defend Fr. Julio César Grassi, a convicted child rapist. https://t.co/OMmkPzwmQf
— We Live in a Fallen World. (@TracyBaxter11) January 29, 2022
“In the high-profile cases of four child molesters from religious orders or priests – Grassi, Pardo, Picciochi, and Sasso – there is evidence that Bergoglio knowingly or unwittingly slowed victims in their fight to expose and prosecute their assailants. Victims of all four offenders say that they sought the cardinal’s help,” reported BishopAccountability. “None of them received it, even those who were poor, struggling on the periphery of society,” the people whom Pope Francis claims to champion.
Archbishop Josef Wesolowski
Pope Francis was informed in July 2013 that Wesolowski, the Vatican ambassador to the Dominican Republic, was accused of soliciting many poor street boys for sex. The pope dismissed Wesolowski in secret from his post but left him a free man and the archbishop fled to Rome.
Wesolowski was finally arrested by the Vatican in September 2014 only after “there was a serious risk that the ambassador would be arrested on Italian territory at the request of the Dominican authorities and then extradited,” reported the Italian newspaper, Corriere della Sera. The archbishop was found with more than 100,000 computer files of child pornography, a “key ingredient” in sex trafficking.
New article: Vatican Laicizes Archbishop Josef Wesolowski for Sex Abuse of Minors http://t.co/OmiTAPqiGe
— National Catholic Register (@NCRegister) June 27, 2014
Wesolowski died mysteriously while he was under house arrest in the Vatican on the eve of his trial that would have brought attention to the above information.
Fr. Nicola Corradi
By open letter and video message “handed to Pope Francis” in May 2014, former students at the notorious Provolo Institute for the Deaf in Italy where more than one hundred deaf and mute children had been sexually abused, informed the pontiff that one of the predators, Fr. Nicola Corradi, held a current position at the Provolo Institute in Argentina.
The pope took no action to stop him.
Corradi and four others in the Argentine school were arrested in November 2016 and charged with raping and molesting at least 22 children. More reports poured in and “it’s now thought that as many as 60 children fell victim to abuse.”
“Victims said they were forced to perform sexual acts on one another and made to watch other students being abused.” “One of the alleged victims said she witnessed how a girl was raped by one priest while the other one forced her to give him oral sex.” Another accused a nun “of making her wear a diaper to cover up a hemorrhage after she was raped by a priest” when she was five years old.
— Chris 🇺🇸 (@Chris_1791) December 24, 2016
“The tormentors” knew “the other children wouldn’t hear the screams as they were deaf.”
Corradi was found guilty by a three-judge panel in Nov. 2019 and sentenced to 42 years in prison.
The Jan. 24 AP Interview Continued
“Francis recalled he had a steep learning curve on abuse, admitting that his ‘conversion’ moment came during a 2018 trip to Chile, when he discredited victims of the country’s most notorious predator priest,” the AP reported. Again, the AP chose to omit facts that would impugn Pope Francis’ “recollection.”
Volumes of Information Readily Available to Pope Francis
From day one of his reign, Pope Francis could have taken effective action to protect children around the world. All he had to do was ask any expert and he would have been referred to the dozens of reports by attorneys general, grand juries, individuals, commissions, and organizations published before his election in 2013.
Since then, there have been dozens more including the very lengthy and thorough reports by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (January 2014); the UN Committee Against Torture (May 2014) which “found that the widespread sexual violence within the Catholic Church amounted to torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”; Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse (December 2017) and the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report (August 2018).
— The CCR (@theCCR) May 23, 2014
The reports concur that, at the least:
- The crime of child sex abuse should be reported to the police immediately.
- The pope should impose ‘meaningful sanctions’ on any Church officials who fail to do so.
- The prelates, priests, deacons, men and women in religious orders and lay employees who were credibly accused should be removed from contact with children immediately.
- Church officials who aided, abetted or covered-up for the perpetrators must be held accountable.
- Church officials must turn over all their pertinent documents to civil authorities.
- Church officials must support removal of statutes of limitations – since it takes decades for victims to report their abuse – where they impede victims of child sexual abuse from seeking justice and redress.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child also stated it was “particularly concerned” that in dealing with allegations of child sex abuse, the pope and his men “have consistently placed the preservation of the reputation of the Church and the protection of the perpetrators above children’s best interests, as observed by several national commissions of inquiry.”
Pope Francis responded in an interview on March 5, 2014, with the Italian daily Corriere della Sera, “The statistics on the phenomenon of violence against children are shocking, but they also show clearly that the great majority of the abuses come from the family environment and from people who are close. The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution that moved with transparency and responsibility. No one else did as much. And yet, the Church is the only one being attacked.”
— VMNT, TSO (@VMNT_tso) June 27, 2015
The UN Committee Against Torture report also noted the pope and his men’s “failures to meet their obligations to provide redress, including financial compensation, rehabilitative support, and a guarantee that the crimes will not be repeated, to their victims.”
The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights sent a letter, put on its website on June 21, 2021, to the Vatican. These human rights experts expressed “utmost concern” about “the [still] apparent pervasiveness of child sexual abuse cases” in the Catholic Church.
The UN human rights experts urged the pope and his men to stop:
- Obstructing the accountability of alleged abusers.
- Undermining legislative efforts to prosecute child sex offenders in national jurisdictions.
They also stated that the pope and his men support statutes of limitations reform “in countries where they impede victims of child sexual abuse from seeking justice and redress [and] cooperate fully with the civil judicial and law enforcement authorities of the countries concerned.”
The experts noted “that these violations, and their cover-up, have allegedly been committed for decades in a large number of countries around the world.”
“Pervasiveness of child sexual abuse cases” in the Catholic Church
More than twenty years after The Boston Globe exposed the rape and torture of hundreds of children by priests in Massachusetts, this horror continues as reported by the foreign press.
“Bit by bit the hideous truth that Catholic priests in Portugal have been left relatively free (if not almost completely free) to sexually abuse children for decades is coming home to roost,” portugalresident.com reported on Aug. 5, 2022.
“The scandal that hit the headlines in France [see below] less than a year ago, and which precipitated the opening of an inquiry in Portugal in January, has opened the floodgates on an accelerating domino-effect of horrors,” the article stated.
“Today, Expresso reveals another 12 priests have been outed by one of their own – half of them still in active duties …. The story is all the more disturbing for the mantle of silence purportedly imposed by the Church’s hierarchy. Previously, allegations have explained how Lisbon’s Cardinal Patriarch failed to report abuse to the police,” noted portugalresident.com.
Widespread child abuse by Catholic Church members in Portugal is tip of iceberg – report
"Strecht said the 4,815 cases were the "absolute minimum" number of victims of sexual abuse by clergy members in Portugal since 1950."https://t.co/vtRssI0oR5
— Natasha Phillips ناتاشا فیلیپس (@SobukiRa) February 13, 2023
“An independent commission has gathered more than 400 testimonies of sex abuse which will be passed on to public prosecutors. Leading Portuguese bishops have apparently known about the crimes for years, but none has admitted any guilt so far. The national press voices outrage,” eurotopics.net reported on Oct. 13, 2022.
“Commenting in Público, journalist Maria João Marques accuses top members of the clergy of complicity: ‘What execrable souls we have in the Portuguese clergy. The problem was not only those who committed the abuses. It was also their accomplices, then as now.
‘Those who didn’t denounce them, those who sought to relativise their transgressions, those who looked the other way, those who simply transferred the perpetrators to other parishes where the abuse continued, those who downplayed the seriousness of the abuse, those who disregarded the consequences for the victims.
‘How can we accept an institution that supposedly proclaims a message of forgiveness and love but ultimately has no compassion for the suffering of abused children and adolescents?’” Marques said as quoted by eurotopics.net.
“French Catholic clergy sexually abused some 216,000 minors from 1950 to 2020, a ‘massive phenomenon’ that was covered up for decades by a ‘veil of silence,’ an independent commission stated on Oct. 5, 2021,” Agence France-Press reported.
“The commission’s two and a half year investigation was prompted by outrage over abuse claims and prosecutions against Church officials worldwide,” the AFP stated.
Pope Francis was asked to comment about this report during the press conference held during his flight from Greece back to Rome. He responded with cruel indifference: “When doing these studies … there is a risk of confusing the way you perceive the problem of a time period 70 years before. I just want to say this as a principle: A historical situation should be interpreted with the [knowledge] of the time, not ours. For example, the cover-up is the way that is used unfortunately in families, even today, in a large number of families, and in neighborhoods. This covering up is not the way to go.”
Breaking News: Roman Catholic clergy in France have sexually abused about 216,000 minors since 1950, according to a report detailing the church’s failings.https://t.co/2DJB9ORXxk
— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 5, 2021
Pope Francis chose to ignore that the report extended to 2020 and that “most victims don’t come forward for many years due to the emotional trauma, health problems and social pressures,” as explained by Barbara Dorris, outreach director for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). In fact, “the average age at the time of reporting child sex abuse was about 52 years” according to Child USA, the national think tank for child protection.
“As of January 10, 2023, BishopAccountability.org has identified nearly 100 Catholic bishops worldwide accused publicly of sexual crimes against children; few have been severely disciplined. Only seven have been laicized.”
“Laicized” means the bishops’ titles have been removed. It doesn’t necessarily mean they have lost their high standard of living.
As for the scores of others, “even those found guilty under canon law have been allowed to retain the title of bishop and to be called emeritus, a status that confers continued prestige and power …. When a bishop becomes emeritus, he merely is beginning ‘a new phase of his ministry,’” according to the Vatican as noted by BishopAccountability.org. “Though relieved of administrative duties, he retains his membership in the college of bishops and continues to ‘collaborate in the governance of the church,’” the group stated, quoting an official document.
As to those men with the rank of bishop or higher who failed to report these crimes to the police; continued to place the perpetrators in proximity to children; refused to turn over pertinent documents to civil authorities and/or tried to impede reform of statutes of limitation; BishopAccountability.com’s records are incomplete.
No prelate has been held accountable by Pope Francis for any of these failures other than to accept their resignation. That is, they no longer have to go to work but still receive their usual income and honors.
Back to the Media
In the latest poll taken on the subject, “about six-in-ten U.S adults (63%) have a ‘very’ or ‘mostly’ favorable opinion of Pope Francis, according to a Pew Research Center survey conducted in March 2021 using the Center’s online American Trends Panel.”
In contrast, in the latest international poll on “The World’s Most Admired Men” also taken in 2021, Pope Francis was less popular than Trump who was listed as No. 13. Pope Francis was listed as No. 16. The YouGov study surveyed more than 42,000 people in 38 countries and territories.
World's Most Admired Men 2021 (11-20)
11. Warren Buffett 🇺🇸
12. Sachin Tendulkar 🇮🇳
13. Donald Trump 🇺🇸
14. Shahrukh Khan 🇮🇳
15. Amitabh Bachchan 🇮🇳
16. Pope Francis 🇦🇷
17. Imran Khan 🇵🇰
18. Virat Kohli 🇮🇳
19. Andy Lau 🇨🇳
20. Joe Biden 🇺🇸https://t.co/oBV8X1gh6E pic.twitter.com/APcMTylDst
— YouGov (@YouGov) December 14, 2021
The disparity is at least partially due to Pope Francis’ idolization by the mainstream U.S. media.
Reprinted with permission from the author.
Betty Clermont is author of The Neo-Catholics: Implementing Christian Nationalism in America (Clarity Press, 2009).
— Church and State (@ChurchAndStateN) July 4, 2018
Pope Francis says gay acts are a sin but ‘not a crime’
Sexual abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church reached ‘epic proportions’
Catholic Church abused over 200,000 minors in France, damning report says
Abuse in the Catholic Church | DW Documentary
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