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Soul-Searching in the Church

The Pope singles out not only the crimes of pedophilia but also condemns the exercise of power within the Church pointing the finger at messianisms, elitisms, clericalisms.

For the past few months a continuous flow of allegations of sexual misconduct of priests and bishops over minors, adults and nuns have sent shockwaves across the Catholic world. 

The recent resignation of the American Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and the prohibition of him exercising any public ministry is the final straw in a string of cases brought to light by The New York Times. 

According to the daily paper, McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington D.C., preyed upon seminarians and young priests over a long period of time. 

If there were rumors circulating and compensations were paid in the past to victims of the retired bishop, why was there “a conspiracy of silence” and how was he permitted to rise in the Catholic hierarchy from bishop to archbishop and then cardinal?  

In another related case, the Bishops of Chile met last May at the Vatican with Pope Francis who addressed a strong and straightforward letter criticizing the prelates for failing to solve the cover-up of sexual abuses of minors committed by the infamous Fr. Fernando Karadima. 

In the tough missive, the Pope singles out not only the crimes of pedophilia but also condemns the exercise of power within the Church pointing the finger at “messianisms, elitisms, clericalisms…, all a perversion of the Church.”

At home, the bishops gathered in an extraordinary assembly to reflect on the reasons of the scandals that have tainted the Chilean Church in recent months. In a statement issued at the end of the assembly, the bishops apologized for failing to manage sex abuse cases. On the other hand, they announced a series of concrete steps, including a closer cooperation with the judicial system and a greater participation of women in the decision-making structures of the Church. 

Now that a healing process has been triggered with the Chilean Church's crisis, we hope and pray that more resources and stricter mechanisms are put in place to address these issues head-on. 

The way forward for the Church is, as suggested in a text on the America Magazine of the Jesuits, “the development of a culture in which powerful leaders do not expect their misdeeds to be silently covered up and in which victims of abuse and harassment feel supported in their decisions to confront those who have mistreated them."  

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