Recently in Vatican City, the Pope delivered his annual Christmas speech. In it, he focused on the scandal of sexual misconduct and the ongoing cover-up that has shaken the very foundation of the Catholic Church worldwide. Pope Francis promised the Church will “never again” overlook sex abuse accusations. He acknowledged that church hierarchy acted irresponsibly in denying victims and dismissing cases of abuse for years, finally urging clergy members guilty of molesting children to hand themselves over to the proper authorities.
Addressing the Roman Curia, Pope Francis vowed that moving forward the Church will, “spare no effort to do all that is necessary to bring to justice whosoever has committed such crimes.” For the Pope, that means subjecting abusive clergy members to “human justice” in addition to “divine justice.” The move is significant for the church leader who himself has been accused of ignoring accusations of sex abuse by high-ranking church officials.
In his Christmas speech, Francis encouraged victims to speak out and called the greatest scandal “cloaking the truth.” The Pope even went as far as to praise the media for shining their light on the problem of clergy abuse and giving victims a voice to seek justice. To stay on top of these and other cases worldwide, Pope Francis scheduled a summit this spring to discuss and combat clergy sex abuse.
In this country, sex abuse among church officials has been widespread. Law enforcement officials in 45 states have already requested Catholic Church documents related to claims of clergy abuse. In Pennsylvania alone, a grand jury investigation uncovered credible claims of abuse, involving more than 300 priests and at least 1,000 victims over the course of more than 60 years.
Since the grand jury report was released, a state hotline has received 1,450 calls with information not originally disclosed to state investigators. The Pennsylvania State Attorney General says that the Church fought law enforcement officials every step of the way during the original grand jury investigation.
Based upon the number of abuse claims that continue to surface around the Catholic Church, the Pope’s call for abusive clergy to turn themselves in is certainly warranted. Only time will tell if priests and other current and former members of the clergy will follow his directive. What is certain, however, is that survivors of sex abuse can no longer depend on the Church to hold its priests accountable. That appears to be a job for the courts.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of this form of abuse, it is crucial that you contact an Scranton clergy abuse lawyer as soon as possible to protect your right to justice. Williams Cedar is dedicated to representing clergy abuse victims and holding dangerous sexual predators accountable. To schedule a free case consultation, call 215-557-0099 or submit an online inquiry. With locations in Philadelphia and Haddonfield, New Jersey, we serve clients from Allentown, Scranton, Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Greensburg, Johnstown, Eerie, Scranton, and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.