Pope Francis' Comments on Clergy Sex Abuse

This story appears in the Francis in the United States feature series. View the full series.

by Michael Sean Winters

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My colleague Joshua McElwee has posted a report on the Holy Father's meeting with the victims of clergy sex abuse and his subsequent remarks at the meeting with bishops gathered for the World Meeting of Families. I hope that those who were complaining about his earlier remarks on the subject, to the bishops on Wednesday and the clergy on Thursday, now recognize that, of course he was going to wait until he got to Philadelphia to meet with the victims because Philadelphia, unlike Washington and New York, experienced the full brunt of the crisis. 

On this subject, I firmly believe that the victims have the right to be angry for the rest of their lives. But, no one has the right to misrepresent the truth. Pope Francis specifically thanked the victims who have come forward for their testimony to the truth.

But, when people say Pope Francis' words cannot substitute for "actual change" they overlook the fact that there is a new bishop headed to Kansas City-St. Joseph, and Archbishop John Nienstedt is no longer the Archbishop of St. Paul.

This pope has implemented "actual change" and to suggest otherwise is a disservice to the victims who are helping the Church change its ways and hold accountable those who failed in their obligations to protect children, to say nothing of Cardinal Sean O'Malley and others in the Church who have worked tirelessly to address both the hurt of past abuse and to prevent this cancer from ever recurring.

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