Pope Benedict has called the Cardinals across the world to the Vatican for “a day of reflection and prayer” next week. This promises to be more of the same—all talk, no action. What the Pope should be doing is calling law enforcement from across the globe to the Vatican to investigate and prosecute those who have committed and been complicit in the sexual abuse of children.
Reflection and prayer do not protect kids. What protects kids is reporting the crimes to law enforcement and working with professionals to combat childhood sexual abuse among clergy, instead of keeping it secret and protecting themselves to save face.
Reportedly, the Pope and his Cardinals will discuss how the Catholic Church should be handling the growing cases of childhood sexual abuse. As we’ve seen time and again, this discussion will only address how they can protect their reputation and themselves, while making it seem like they’re actually doing something to protect kids. As Canon Law Expert Tom Doyle assures in his commentary, “this will end up being another meaningless disappointment”.
In a Washington Post article published November 8, Washington D.C. Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl calls the issue “well handled” in the United States saying “the issue now is essentially behind us.” This is the very attitude and mindset that has created a worldwide scandal for the Catholic Church.
The issue is not behind the Church and it is not behind us. Childhood sexual abuse is still kept under wraps and is being covered up daily by the church hierarchs because the protocols they are using are the same that they used decades, if not centuries ago. Nothing has fundamentally changed in the hierarchical Catholic Church.
Instead of a protocol that requires internal secrecy and cover-ups, the protocol should require the Pope to call law enforcement to the Vatican, and require the opening up of all the secrets and all the files dealing with crimes in which the Church hierarchs have been complicit. Then and only then, once they are investigated and held accountable for the complicity in the crimes, will children begin to be protected. Words don’t protect kids. Prayers don’t protect kids. Actions protect kids.