Pope Francis has called for strong, specific worldwide measures for the Catholic Church to act “with determination” against clergy sex abuse — the scandal that has rocked the church for more than a decade.
It is one of the first actions on a major issue in Francis’ week-old papacy, one marked so chiefly by attention to his humble, cut-the-pageantry style.
After he met Friday with the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, the Vatican said in a statement.
“The Holy Father recommended that the congregation continue the line sought by Benedict XVI, to act with determination in regard to cases of sexual abuse,” the Vatican said.
Francis cited measures to protect minors, help victims of sexual violence and necessary action against perpetrators, and emphasize that drafting and implementing directives by bishop conferences around the world is important to the credibility of the church.
And Francis concluded by saying, “victims of abuse are present in a particular way in his prayers for those who are suffering,” according to the Vatican press office.
U.S. victims of clergy abuse have demanded swift and bold actions from the new Jesuit pontiff. In Argentina, where the former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, he had been praised for his simple lifestyle and focus on the poor but criticized for failing to meet with abuse victims.
Today’s actions also contain another clue to how Francis will be pope: He calls on the various national bishops’ conferences around the world to step up to disciplining priests and serving victims. This could be an indication that he will move from a strongly centralized government of the church of 1.2 billion people to one that places increased authority locally.
In 2002, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops led the world in establishing a zero-tolerance policy for abusive priests, removing them from ministry, and reaching out to victims.
source: USA Today