Catholic church 'still in denial' over sex-abuse cases

Washington | Friday

THE ambiguous proposals released after a two-day crisis meeting between Pope John Paul II and 12 US cardinals shows the Roman Catholic Church is “still in denial” about ongoing sex-abuse scandals, US media opined on Thursday.

The proposals, which would remove the worst sex abusers from among the ranks of Catholic clergy, back-pedalled on an expected “zero tolerance” policy for paedophiliac priests, despite the burgeoning number of claims of molestation and abuse being lodged in parishes across the United States.

According to USA Today, the two written statements outlining a new US policy on sex abuse ahead of the planned June conference of US bishops “added more confusion than comfort.”

“A less charitable reading” of the two documents, the paper’s editorial board wrote, “shows a Church still in denial.”

Most galling to the editorial board of The Boston Globe the daily whose readership was most rocked by paedophilia charges after the arrest and conviction of defrocked priest John Geoghan, the subject of more than 100 claims of abuse was that the statements “failed to address the crisis of confidence among the laity.”

The Vatican’s statements were “incomplete” and riddled with “extraordinarily measured language to describe ... the campaign to conceal knowledge of abuse from public view,” the daily wrote.

While The New York Times hailed a statement issued by the pontiff Tuesday as a “strongly worded condemnation of sexual abuse and a powerful, if implicit, criticism of senior Church authorities,” the proposals offered Wednesday “failed to embrace the kind of disciplinary reforms that would decisively break with past mistakes,” it said.

“Difficult questions were left unresolved,” the Times’s unsigned editorial said, noting that even the minor resolutions emerging from the Vatican meeting “will mean little without aggressive follow-up by the American hierarchy” of the Church.

But it was in the pages of The Washington Post that the criticism of the “ambiguous advice” offered by the pope to the cardinals was the strongest.

“The degree of regret and remorse among the red capes is trifling,” the daily wrote, referring to the vestments worn in public by the high-ranking Church officials.

“In Rome, in the papal palace, the mood was defensive rather than penitential. The faithful who were waiting for justice and enlightenment must accept the fact of the meeting as more important than what was said or done.” Sapa-AFP

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