Pope Francis Instructs Bishops to Have Zero Tolerance for Sexual Abuse
By Mei Manuel, January 03, 2017 02:01 AM
On Monday, the Vatican released a copy of a letter Pope Francis has written to the bishops around the world on December 28th which told bishops to adhere to a policy of zero tolerance for any clergy member who sexually abused children and begged forgiveness for "a sin that shames us."
In his letter, the Pope said: "I would like us to renew our complete commitment to ensuring that these atrocities will no longer take place in our midst."
The Pope also remarked "(The Church) recognizes the sins of some of her members: the sufferings, the experiences and the pain of minors who were abused sexually by priests. It is a sin that shames us."
He also said, "I would like us to renew our complete commitment to ensuring that these atrocities will no longer take place in our midst. Let us find the courage needed to take all necessary measures and to protect in every way the lives of our children, so that such crimes may never be repeated. In this area, let us adhere, clearly and faithfully, to 'zero tolerance.'"
The letter also spoke about comments of the pope regarding the plight of all vulnerable children. The Pope has met some of these victims in several foreign trips and said "We join in the pain of the victims and weep for this sin - the sin of what happened, the sin of failing to help, the sin of covering up and denial, the sin of the abuse of power."
The Pope has taken several steps to remove sexual abuse in the Church since he was elected in 2013 and enacted several policies to protect children. In 2015, the Pope ordered the trial and defrocking of a Polish archbishop who was accused of paying for sex with minors in the Dominican Republic. In the previous year, he created a Vatican commission with some victims to advise local Churches on how they could prevent abuse.
However, victims' groups say that these were not enough and he should also account bishops who have tolerated sexual abuse cases or covered it up. The proposal for the establishment of a Vatican tribunal to judge bishops accused of covering up sexual abuse or failing to stop has yet to be finalized despite the Pope's support for its creation.
The issue of sexual abuse in the Church was first made public in 2002 when it was discovered that US bishops moved abusers from parish to parish instead of defrocking them. Other scandals were then discovered because of this controversy worldwide and millions of dollars were already paid in compensation.
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