Pope condemns abuse in the Church

Ahead of his trip to Ireland Pope Francis has called for "zero tolerance" for sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. In a letter to believers around the world he described it as a crime, demanded investigations and condemned what he described as an "abnormal understanding of authority in the Church". Will his words change anything?

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Polityka (PL) /

Finally a clear stance against cover-ups

Polityka explains why the letter is so important:

“One could say the letter comes too late, it's nothing but crisis management, and it deals with neither celibacy nor compensation. Nevertheless Francis's letter is important. ... The tone is clear and unmistakable. ... The pope's critics would prefer to deal with the matter internally without the public being involved. They like to lay the blame on purported conspiracies against the Church in the media and politics. They love to point out cases of paedophilia in other religions and confessions. Pope Francis has chosen a different path. ... He has the vision that defenders of the paedophile status quo in the Church lack. Because the bestiality of paedophilia does more to destroy the Church in mind and soul than other sins, for example greed.”

De Morgen (BE) /

Church needs separation of powers

Only last week a report put out by a US commission of enquiry documented cases of abuse committed by roughly 300 priests against around 1,000 children. Emmanuel Van Lierde, editor-in-chief of the Christian weekly newspaper Tertio, doubts that anything will change in the wake of the pope's letter:

“The failures of the episcopal leadership are partly responsible for the moral catastrophe, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, has said. The bishops could have taken steps to stop the goings on, but didn't, DiNardo stated. Would they do it today or must others do it for them? What is needed is a true separation of powers in the Church and an independent authority to monitor those in positions of power. Both are now lacking. What's certain is that mutual words of brotherly admonishment alone will not do the job.”

Público (PT) /

Down with celibacy

The Catholic Church's outdated sexual morals and celibacy dictate must be abolished without further delay, writes André Lamas Leite, a professor of law at the University of Porto, in Público:

“This problem can only be tackled if the Church finally gives up its positions regarding the ordination of priests. That means making celibacy voluntary for priests and finally opening the door for members of the clergy to marry. How many centuries will it take for the Church to realise that most people feel the need to live their sexuality without this being something dirty or impure? ... In addition, members of the clergy should be subjected to mental health exams - not just before they begin their 'consecrated life' but afterwards too, and on a regular basis.”

The Irish Independent (IE) /

Words of apology are not enough

The pope should make it clear during his visit to Ireland next weekend that the Church will take action against abuse committed by clerics, The Irish Independent demands:

“We do not know if we will hear words of apology to the people of Ireland, but even if we do, it will not be enough. What needs to happen now is that the church needs to let the light in, to stop fighting earthly law enforcement, to stop obstructing, to stop protecting. Pope Francis, if he wishes to save his church in the eyes of the rest of the world, and if he wishes to prove, as the Vatican statement said last week, that he is on the side of the victims, then he needs to signal that the truth will out, and then, and only then, can everyone begin to move on, and remember the good again.”