Pope deplores abuse in letter to world’s Catholics

What happened?

Pope Francis has called on all Catholics to eng­age in penitential prayer and fasting following the publishing of a grand jury report into sexual abuse in Penn­sylvania. In a letter to “the People of God”, the Pope said that the Church needed to beg forgiveness for its failure to act, calling for Christians to join together in pen­ance to “awaken our conscience and arouse our solidarity and commitment to a culture of care that says ‘never again’ to every form of abuse.”

What the commentators are saying

In response to Pope Francis’s letter on Tuesday, Marie Collins, former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, tweeted: “Statements from Vatican or Pope should stop telling us how terrible abuse is and how all must be held accountable. Tell us instead what you are doing to hold them accountable.That is what we want to hear. ‘Working on it’ is not an acceptable explanation for decades of delay.”

Following the Pennsylvania report, the response to the church’s handling of abuse was one of near universal condemnation. In particular, calls for the then Bishop of Pittsburgh, Cardinal Wuerl, to resign over his role in the scandal have been growing in volume. In the Washington Post, Marc Thiessen demanded that “Cardinal Wuerl must go”, arguing that the “Church must be cleansed” in response to the “massive crisis”.

John Daniel Davidson in the Federalist called for “public penance, resignations and a new generation of Church leaders” to restore faith in the Church after “sickening” reports of the “insidious evil of the bishops who covered up this abuse”.

​How to continue reading…

This article appears in the Catholic Herald magazine - to read it in full subscribe to our digital edition from just 30p a week

The Catholic Herald is your essential weekly guide to the Catholic world; latest news, incisive opinion, expert analysis and spiritual reflection