Pope praises US bishops’ response to abuse crisis

Pope Francis has hailed the “courage” shown by United States bishops in facing up to the clergy sex abuse crisis.

Speaking to about 400 bishops in Washington, DC, on September 23, the Pope said the bishops had regained the authority and trust which was demanded of them.

He also praised the bishops for being ready to sell off Church property and assets to compensate victims.

“I have supported your generous commitment to bring healing to victims – in the knowledge that in healing we too are healed – and to work to ensure that such crimes will never be repeated,” he continued, prompting a round of applause from the assembled bishops.

Between 2004 and 2013, US dioceses paid US$1.7billion in legal settlements.

The Survivors’ Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) criticised the Pope’s comments.

Spokesperson Barbara Dorris said the US bishops had, almost without exception, shown cowardice and callousness and continue to do so.

“They offer excuses, exploit legal technicalities and hide behind expensive lawyers and public relations professionals, hardly the marks of courage,” she said.

“We’re also sad that Francis can’t bring himself to call this crisis what it is – not ‘difficult moments in recent history’, but the continuing cover-up of clergy child sex crimes by almost the entire Church hierarchy.”

Pope Francis called on the US bishops to overcome their differences and present a gentler and more understanding face to the faithful, especially those who have views with which they disagree.

He stressed that dialogue is “our method”.

“Harsh and divisive language does not befit the tongue of a pastor,” Pope Francis said.

Earlier, the Pope visited the White House, speaking about immigration, climate change, inequality and the family.

President Barack Obama lavished praise on the Pope as someone in whom “we see a living example of Jesus’ teachings”.


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