In a statement released Wednesday by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), president Barbara Blaine blasted Pope Francis for his praise of US bishops’ “courage,” accusing the pontiff of doing “little if anything” to meaningfully address the Catholic Church’s decades-long sex abuse crisis.
Pope Francis, in a homily delivered at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington, D.C., one of several stops on his first US tour, told the nearly 300 bishops in attendance that he was “conscious of the courage with which you have faced difficulty moments in the recent history of the Church in this country without fear of self-criticism and at the cost of mortification and great sacrifice.”
Blaine, who founded SNAP in 1988 as a self-help organization for victims of clergy sexual abuse, wasted no time in challenging the pope’s characterization of the Church’s disastrous handling of the scandals, noting no clergy have been “defrocked, demoted, disciplined or even publicly denounced” despite the revelation of at least 100,000 victims over the course of 30 years of known abuse.
“What sacrifice?,” questioned Blaine. “What bishop takes fewer vacations, drives a smaller car, does his own laundry or has been passed over for promotion because he’s shielding predators and endangering kids? None.”
Today, the Vatican stood by the pope’s comments. “I am not surprised that there are critics that are not happy,” said Vatican Press Secretary, Rev. Federico Lombardi. “This is not the first time.”
Despite decades of occurrence, clergy sexual abuse only entered the public consciousness thirteen years ago, following an explosive exposé by the Boston Globe. According to Blaine, in the years since, Catholic Church officials have taken few steps to protect children from future victimization.
“[Pope Francis’] remarks today confirm what we’ve long suspected: this pope, like his predecessors, is doing and will do little if anything to bring real reform to this continuing crisis. Those who care about kids must focus on secular authorities, not church figures (however popular they may be).
Media Resources: SNAP Press Release 9/23/15; Washington Post 9/23/15; USA Today 9/23/15;