The Vatican has announced formation of a commission to protect young people from Catholic priests. To be fair; not all priests, just those with a fondness for “choir boys”. Spokesman, Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston broke the news today; reportably a recommendation coming out of the Council of Cardinals meeting in Rome this week. Pope Francis, acting on the advice of his advisory council, gave the green light to “draft guidelines for prevention of abuse, developing training programs, advising on co-operation with law enforcement officials, and promoting care of victims of abuse”.
The as yet to be appointed commission members will be experts on sexual abuse and prevention. Up until now, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have been handling discipline for naughty priests. Cardinal O’Malley didn’t know if the commission would have authority over Bishops who cover up allegations of abuse by priests. The announcement comes on the heels of the church refusing a United Nations request to provide information on how it dealt with abusive clergy.
Call me cynical but something smells fishy. I’ve pondered Pope Francis long and hard – my conclusion being, he might be a man willing to make some changes. On the surface this announcement reads like a step in the right direction. Peel back a few layers and I’m still astounded. The very fact that a commission needs to be formed in order to “educate” and “counsel” clergy leaves me speechless.
I have a novel idea – how about a zero tolerance policy? If the church truly wanted to send a message, wouldn’t it make sense to say “oh hell no” – fiddle with children and you’re history. When a teacher interferes with a student they lose their job and face prosecution. If a coach, doctor or anyone in position of trust diddled about they would be slapped so fast their head would spin. Why do we allow the church to form commissions in order to educate their paedophiles – let them find counselling in jail.
Paedophiles are an insidious bunch – for starters they believe their actions are sincere and harmless. They’re beyond “education and counselling” – I would laugh if it wasn’t so tragic. How can intelligent people sit back and watch as the church throws out another bone? The only way to put an end to this epidemic is to squelch it at the source; society has no obligation to let the church clean it’s own house. At some point we have to say “enough”, you had your chance and blew it big time – now the law will see to it that young lives aren’t shattered.
Pope Francis is assembling a panel of experts to advise him on sex abuse in the clergy. (Max Rossi/Reuters)