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Pope’s Preacher Urges Repentance for Clergy Sexual Abuse

Mar 06, 2007 — Categories: ,

The Pope has his own preacher, Reverend Raniero Cantalamessa, who, in a recent sermon, underscored the “abomination” of the sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests and urged a day of fasting and penance for the Church. The Pope was listening but the Vatican had no comment after the service.

The Pope has his own preacher, Reverend Raniero Cantalamessa, who, in a recent sermon, underscored the “abomination” of the sexual abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests and urged a day of fasting and penance for the Church. The Pope was listening but the Vatican had no comment after the service. The crisis of abuse by priest pedophiles has deeply wounded the Catholic Church and virtually destroyed its credibility.

In the face of thousands of reports of sex abuse by priests and cover-ups by Bishops for many years, the wounds in many cases go unhealed. The preacher said that a day of fasting and penance at every level of the church would be one way for the institution to repent and to stand in solidarity with victims. He has challenged the church; he has spoken truth to power.

Survivors of abuse are not necessarily impressed. SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests) said, “We’d much rather the Pope discipline complicit bishops instead.” Abuse is a problem that the Catholic Church has created for itself: its credibility is now so damaged that even a symbolic act of accountability is suspect because of the lack of literal acts of accountability

What would real repentance and solidarity with survivors look like?

  • Leadership by the Pope himself addressing and preventing sexual abuse by priests
  • Discipline and removal of Bishops who have covered up or mismanaged reports of priest pedophiles
  • Support for rather than dismissal of Bishops like Thomas Gumbleton from Detroit, a survivor himself, who has been outspoken in his defense of other survivors
  • Declare an Annual Day of Fasting and Penance to ensure that the Church remembers the harm that has been done to its children and to recommit itself each year to the protection of children in its care

“And from prophet to priest, every one deals falsely. They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:13-14). The Pope and the Church would do well to listen to the preacher. He is simply saying that there is no peace yet in the Catholic Church in the aftermath of the betrayal by pedophile priests. The wounds have been healed, if at all, only lightly.

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