Pope Francis waves from the Popemobile Photo by: Getty Images

Pope Francis is taking steps with abuse crisis that his predecessors never did


Pope Francis waves from the Popemobile Photo by: Getty Images

Marie Kane and Marie Collins, the two Irish women who met the Pope this week to discuss the abuse they suffered at the hands of pedophile priests, both made the same central point.

They said many institutions have pedophiles working for them, but it was the cover-ups that went all the way back to the Vatican and previous popes that hurt the most.

It is easy to empathize.

Huge institutions like the Catholic Church needed safeguards not just against the priests concerned but also the higher-ups, who exponentially damaged the victims by turning a blind eye or, worse, denying anything happened.

In that respect it is salutary to look at another organization, the BBC, itself a massive world renowned broadcaster, which covered up its own horrific pedophile scandal for years.

One of their top performers was DJ Jimmy Saville, who violated hundreds of young children during his career as a BBC star.

There was plenty of evidence around during his horrific spree that executives knew or suspected what was really going on. Yet no one blew the whistle.

They even went so far as to cancel a current affairs program after his death that revealed the shocking abuse, allegedly believing the charges could not be substantiated.

It took a rival network, ITV, and a dedicated investigative journalist, Mark Williams-Thomas, to reveal the truth.

In similar fashion Boston Cardinal Bernard Law oversaw a massive cover-up in his own archdiocese and fled to Rome just before the allegations surfaced. Once safely in the Vatican he was handed a nice sinecure for his defense of pedophiles.

It is behavior like this that hurt and damaged survivors the most.

Pope Francis meeting the victims is exactly the direct and caring response that is needed and what we have come to expect from this pope. But it must not be just a once-off with no new policies in place.

Kane made it clear that she wants men like Cardinal Sean Brady, who shuffled the accusations aside for years, gone from the Catholic Church hierarchy in Ireland as quickly as possible.

“Until people like Sean Brady are gone, I will never believe that there is change and I said that to the Pope Francis and he understood that. He heard what I said and understood where I was coming from,” Kane told the Irish Independent.

It is amazing in the case of the BBC and the church that the lesson of the damage that the cover-up does, above and beyond the initial crime, is never learned.

Hopefully, this Pope will grasp what his predecessors never did. He has taken a good first step.


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