Pope Finally Meets with his Pontifical Child Abuse Commission

On September 21, nearly four years after creating a task force to address a major Church crisis, Pope Francis met for the first time with his Pontifical Child Abuse Commission. He delivered a written address, which once again stressed “zero tolerance” - while failing to make any proposals toward achieving that goal. He did the same thing four years ago when he created the commission. Virtually nothing of substance has been accomplished since then.

Pope Francis also made some “impromptu” comments (here), which received much more media attention. NCR’s lead paragraph sums it up: “Pope Francis has admitted that the Catholic Church waited too long before taking reports of clergy sexual abuse seriously, suggesting that the former practice of moving priests accused of abuse to new ministries instead of reporting them to authorities kept the church numb to the scope of the situation.” What they did not mention was that Pope Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI repeatedly denied doing anything of the kind. Nor did anyone note that covering up the crimes and recirculating the pederast priests was a result of the Church’s moral “numbness,” not the cause of it.

There was no apparent reason for the date of this meeting. There were no substantive announcements, nor were they commemorating any previous event. But this meeting took place about a week after the long-anticipated release of Australia’s RMIT report on child abuse in the Catholic Church. I suspect this papal visit was originally intended as a PR event to defuse the uproar created by RMIT’s report. However, the Vatican somehow managed to suppress the report outside Australia. In fact, none of the Vatican press correspondents even asked Pope Francis about it, a reflection on their journalistic integrity.