Saturday, January 20, 2018

The Cranky Pope

Hard on the heels of the explosive and exploding incidences of women revealing for the first time the identities of their sexual abusers, a phenomenon of unveiling a dark hidden secret of many men in positions of power and influence using their positions to prey on women whose careers they are capable of advancing or retarding, a public figure of immense authority has stepped into the fray, and in all likelihood not by intention but through a momentary irascible backlash flash of irritation.
"The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, I'll speak."
"There is not one shred of proof against him. It's all calumny. Is that clear?"
Pope Francis, Santiago, Chile
Pope Francis arrives in Peru
Pope Francis has accused victims of Chile’s most notorious paedophile of slander, in an astonishing end to a visit meant to help heal the wounds of a sex abuse scandal that has cost the Catholic church its credibility in the country. The Guardian
"As if I could have taken a selfie or a photo while Karadima abused me and others and Juan Barros stood by watching it all."
"These people are truly crazy, and the pontiff talks about atonement to the victims. Nothing has changed, and his plea for forgiveness is empty."
Juan Carlos Cruz, accuser

"[It is] sad and wrong [for the Pope to discredit the victims since] the burden of proof here rests with the church, not the victims -- and especially not with victims whose veracity has already been affirmed."
"He has just turned back the clock to the darkest days of this crisis. Who knows how many victims now will decide to stay hidden, for fear they will not be believed?"
Anne Barrett Doyle, online database BishopAccountability.org
Pope Francis, pressed for a comment by a Chilean journalist with respect to the status of Bishop Juan Barros whom he had named bishop of the southern diocese of Osorno in Chile at a time when victims of Barros's superior, the Rev.Fernando Karadima were accusing him of rampant sexual crimes, snapped back with the response that made it quite clear he failed to believe the accusations of the victims that Bishop Barros knew, and had even witnessed that abuse.

In one fell swoop not only turning asunder his main thrust of address in travelling to Chile with the purpose of apologizing for the horrendous misdeeds of the Catholic Church when its priests pledged to celibacy chose to pursue other avenues of satisfying their sexual desires by targeting children and parishioners for abuse. It was always widely recognized that these events took place, and that superiors within the Church sought to keep the scandal within the church, never admitting it took place, simply transferring the offending priest to another parish to repeat his sins anew.

In effect, this is what the Pontiff himself has done, irrespective of his sincere apology on behalf of the Catholic Church. Loyal Catholics who had been abused had attempted for years to apprise the church hierarchy of what was occurring only to hit a blank wall of indifference and disbelief. Sexual abuse and the cover up of the church is legendary. The Archbishop of Santiago eventually apologized for refusing to believe victims once they spread their stories at large and they became news of shocking importance.

Yet knowing that the victims' stories had been substantiated, Pope Francis still chose to believe that the man he named as Bishop, a former Karadima protege, could honourable and in good faith be accepted by the Osorno community as their church authority, in so doing repeating the very routine the church always engaged in when confronted by such abuse. As far as the Osorno controversy was concerned where people refused to consider Bishop Barros as their bishop, Pope Francis spoke of the controversy as "stupid".

This, from a man claiming himself to be dedicated to serving the people, not the classical indulgences of the church hierarchy. "Isn't the pastoral problem that we're living (in Osorno) enough to get rid of him?" asked Juan Carlos Claret, spokesman for a group of Osorno lay Catholics whose three-year campaign against Barros no doubt added to the Pope's rejection of the claims by parishioners that they could not respect an insider who had stood by and done nothing to help stop the abuse.

This is the church establishment which has vowed to do penance for the past, for having accused victims of slandering and attacking the church with unsubstantiated claims. And which Pope Francis set out to reverse, assuring Catholics that the church had much to apologize for and he was the man to assuage the wounds. Instead, he has chosen to open a new wound by the expedience of reverting to the former stance of the church, accusing the accusers.

A "tremendous error" in judgement by the Pope, according to to German Silva, political scientist at Universidad Mayor in Santiago, that will reverberate in Chile and beyond.

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