I fear. Should I fear? Should I be very afraid? Pope Francis must know that he sets the attitudes of others in the hierarchy of the Church concerning the treatment of the victims of clergy sexual abuse. In Chile he was vicious, unnecessarily cruel in his words regarding accusers of Bishop Barros covering up abuse by those abused by Fr. Karadima. Calumny, really. Saying accusers who had been found to be credible in their accusations of Fr. Karadima who say Barros watched and then covered up, calling them liars and calling them calumnious…wow. According to Merriam Webster on-line dictionary “calumny the act of uttering false charges or misrepresentations maliciously calculated to harm another’s reputation”. Remember the abuse charges were found to be credible. Was the response by Pope Francis loving…NO! Merciful…NO! Compassionate, Understanding, Empathetic…NO, NO and NO again! And that really does frighten me.
Let’s face facts, no abuse by priests is ever handled well by the Church. Sexual abuse hasn’t even been handled consistently by the Church at this time or by this pontiff. What is that saying to bishops, priests and laypeople around the world? It signals that those who have endured abuse, and their loved ones, do not matter. Their pain does not matter. The difficulties that they have succumbed to or overcome do not matter.
Well into this scandal I have been at gatherings of priests who still say that the victims are only in this for the money and that they are probably not even telling the truth. Where is my money then? Why would a victim put themselves through this, being called liars, being called people guilty of calumny, people who just want money? At this same conference the bishop was blaming journalist. Journalists are a lot of things but they were not the ones covering up the crime and sin that is sexual abuse.
I hope other victims of the Church, (the sexually abused, their families and loved ones, the ongoing cover-up, evil and hurtful words by the pontiff and other bishops, priests and laypeople), cling to God. God gives us the truth in this world of lies. Cling to Him and fear not.