Apologies for abuse crisis seem to be wearing thin

Pope Benedict XVI apologized again to sex abuse victims during his Mass ending the Year for Priests. As John Allen noted in his report:

In the run-up to this morning's Mass, some had speculated that Benedict might use the occasion to unveil dramatic new policy measures on the sexual abuse crisis. In fact, the pope did not announce any new initiatives, but instead referred to the crisis in a more spiritual key as a “summons to purification.”

Will Pope Benedict's apologies for abuse crisis ever be enough? asks Cathy Lynn Grossman over at her USA Today Faith and Reason blog.

She got one response from the watchdog group BishopAccountability.Org, the first of the victim's groups to roll out a statement.

The pope's response has been platitudes, metaphor, and rhetoric. What's worse, with the appalled Catholic laity waiting for solutions, the Pope prescribed merely an internal, inadequate next step -- better seminary screening and formation. But we all have learned in recent years that the most effective solutions lie outside the Church. To solve this massive crisis, the Pope must take specific actions himself and also endorse and facilitate certain external measures that would advance transparency and justice.

We just received this statement from the Catholic reform group Call to Action:

"An apology will not erase the crimes committed nor prevent future ones. Our church—and particularly our children—deserve more than mere apology; we deserve immediate action.

“An apology is nothing without correction of the wrong that preceded it. The Vatican must take responsibility for the implementation and enforcement of anti-abuse standards for reporting, prevention and accountability in dioceses worldwide."

Call to Action wants an independent "truth and reconcillation committee" set up.

“Only when there is truth-telling and accountability will the roots of this problem finally be addressed; roots that are grounded in a trail of cover-up that rises to the highest levels of power in the Roman Catholic Church. As far back as 1962, the Vatican had urged secrecy in dealing with sexual abuse crimes and that has lasted to this day in the majority of dioceses throughout the world."

Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, SNAP, issued this statement:

Forgiveness comes after, not during, a crisis. Right now, kids are being assaulted by priests and bishops are concealing the crimes. And the Pope continues taking no action to stop this.

The Pope still ignores the crux of the crisis – the on-going recklessness, deceit and callousness of bishops who, even now, protect predators instead of children.

Some speculated that the Pope would, this week, announce a global church abuse policy. He didn’t. He isn’t even promising one.

He did, however, make an oblique exhortation to “do everything possible” to stop abuse. But real “carrots” and “sticks” alter behavior. Substantive structural and cultural change alters behavior. Vague, one sentence pledges don’t.

What does Blaine suggest as a solution? "The root cause of this horrific and on-going clergy sex abuse and cover-up crisis remains the nearly limitless power of bishops. The real solution to the scandal must therefore involve reducing the power of bishops ..."

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