Photo Credit: Reuters
Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, declared that he is committed to eliminating all cases of abuse against followers of the faith.
The Pontiff continued by saying that since he is the head of the Church, which does not swiftly punish the abusers, he bears responsibility for carrying out this mission. The Pope’s objective now is to have “zero tolerance” for violence. Francis stated, “A priest cannot remain a priest if he is an abuser.”
Sex abuse by priests and the Roman Catholic Church’s response to it have been a major topic of discussion since his election as Pope of the largest religion in terms of followers. Francis claims that every case he encounters “hurts” him because he wonders how someone who put on the mask of service to the community and God could commit such heinous deeds.
Since Francis became Pope in 2013, there have already been countless instances and reports of priest sexual abuse. However, it also brings with it institutional flaws, carelessness, and cover-ups that not only instill fear in Catholics but also undermine Francis’ admirable role as head of the Church.
The fight to curtail abuse
Francis’ handling of cases of sexual abuse has already drawn criticism on numerous occasions. For instance, it was reported in 2018 that a bishop in Chile may have covered up a sex scandal. Pope Francis defended the accused, which infuriated many people who have long despised the institutionalized support of abusers.
However, Francis later expressed regret to the public for his “grave error” and made systemic changes to ensure it didn’t happen again. The Vatican’s rules requiring secrecy in cases of sexual abuse were subsequently abolished by the Pope, who also made improvements to the system that enabled cases of sexual abuse to be handled more quickly.
Two years after the revision, Francis took another risky step that no high church official had made in forty years. Pope Francis instructed bishops to act swiftly and fairly when dealing with clergy who abuse both minors and adults. Francis also emphasized fraud and ordaining women in the order.
“I don’t deny the abuse. Even if it was only one [case], it is monstrous. Because you, priest, you, nun, have to take that boy, that girl to God, and with this, you destroy their lives. It’s monstrous. It is destroying lives. And then they come to you with questions. Could it be that celibacy is to blame]? It’s not about celibacy,” said Francis.
“This is one thing about abuse; it is a destructive thing, humanly diabolical.”
“In families, there is no celibacy and all that, and, sometimes, it happens. So, it is simply the monstrosity of a man or woman of the Church who is psychologically ill or evil and uses their position for their personal satisfaction.”
The war between Russia and Ukraine
The Pope claimed that Russia and Ukraine contacted him during a media interview. Francis asserts that he spoke on the phone with Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine. Nevertheless, the Pope did not specify what they were discussing.
“I had a dialogue with both of them. They both visited me here before the war. And I always believe that in dialogue, we always move forward,” said Francis. “You know who doesn’t know how to talk? Animals. They are pure instinct.”
The world holds the Pope in high regard, so when he declared that the death of Russian political commentator Darya Dugina was one of the “innocent” casualties of war, Kyiv was offended.
The Foreign Ministry called Archbishop Visvaldas Kulbokas, the Apostolic Nuncio to Ukraine, to voice their displeasure with Francis, claiming that it “equalizes the aggressor and the victim.”
The Pope hinted that he might visit Moscow and Kyiv to advise the leaders on settling their dispute peacefully. If successful, Francis will visit Moscow as the first pope to do so; and the first to visit Kyiv in more than 20 years.
Opinions expressed by US Insider contributors are their own.