Abuse: is the pope's apology enough?
Pope Francis condemned the mistreatment and abuse of children and women by members of the Catholic Church during his visit to Ireland on the weekend. For many victims, however, his apology didn't go far enough. Commentators demand thorough investigations and call on the Church to spearhead social change.
A chance for social change
The Church needs to take action in the fight against abuse, writes Deutschlandfunk:
“The truth is also that most cases of abuse still occur within families. That for example many sport associations have an underdeveloped awareness of the issue. Protecting children and youths from potential criminals is a task for society as a whole. Also because of the public outcry over the scandals at institutions belonging to the Catholic Church, much has been done in Ireland, in Germany and in the US . ... And in Rome too, rules were tightened as the scandals piled up. ... On the issue of abuse there are only losers - but the Catholic Church has an opportunity now: it could spearhead a process of social change that roundly rejects a culture which makes abuse possible”
The definitive test for Francis's papacy
Merely apologising to abuse victims is not enough, The Irish Times admonishes:
“While Pope Francis appears sincere in his appeal for forgiveness, nothing can repair the damage done and words are, in themselves, not enough. The church will have to demonstrate that it is truly serious about rooting out abuse and tackling the culture that allowed it to develop. That will include new investigations, redress and handing over documents.This must be done for the victims, but also for all the practising Catholics in Ireland and across the world who feel betrayed by the church they cherish. ... This is the defining test of Francis’s papacy.”
Don't forget the victims' suffering
Historian and Vatican expert Alberto Melloni pinpoints the group of people for whom the Pope's trip was an extremely emotional occasion:
“The trip to Ireland was not a 'difficult' trip for Francis. It was far more 'difficult' for the many girls and boys who denounced sexual abuse (around 1,300 since the 1970s) and for the unknown number who remained silent about how their lives were destroyed by being raped by a priest. ... Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, the first Irish politician to have made his homosexuality public and to successfully campaign for same-sex marriage, has called attention to this suffering by inviting Pope Francis to Dublin.”
Heavy weapons against the pope
Arch-Bishop Carlo Maria Viganò has openly accused Francis of having known about the allegations of abuse against Cardinal McCarrick since 2013 and ignored them. These accusations could pose a serious threat to the Pope, El País's Vatican correspondent Daniel Verdú believes:
“The accusations made by Viganò in an 11-page letter in which he claims that the pope knew of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick's abuses in 2013 are extremely grave. ... If they are confirmed, Francis's credibility on this crucial issue will suffer a major setback. The fact that Viganó forms part of an internal struggle against Francis - he recently attended a reunion of prelates who oppose Francis where they debated when would be the right moment to disobey a pope - does not detract from the force of his accusations.”