Unspoken Consequences: Pope Francis’ Comments May Silence Victims and Put Kids at Risk

by | Nov 21, 2023 | Catholic Church

Pope’s Comments Keep Victims Feeling Helpless & Kids at Risk

Pope Francis on Bishop Gisana of Piazza Armerina Horowitz Law

Ah, Pope Francis. There he goes again, stealing headlines over the weekend with statements that have taken us all a bit aback. This time, he voiced support for a Sicilian bishop accused of covering up sexual abuse. This news hit us like a punch to the gut and left us rummaging for answers. This account comes from The Pillar, a Catholic news source that’s been dishing the dirt on what goes behind the holy doors. Tragically, this isn’t the first incident of such nature, and, believe me, it’s a big deal.

The Problem with Pope Francis’ Remarks

Let’s dive in a bit, alright? So, Pope Francis’ comments were quite brief, yet potent enough to undercut the endeavors of the church hierarchy to claim ‘we’ve changed’ our ways when dealing with felonies like child sex crimes and cover-ups. The Pope casually mentioned, “Bishop Rosario Gisana of Piazza Armerina is a good man. He stood firm amidst persecutions and slanders.” A punchy statement made a hell of an impact but left us all with a single, nagging question: what did he mean by that?

The Role of Gisana

According to The Pillar, Gisana is a contentious figure facing hefty allegations of covering up sexual abuse. Specifically, he didn’t respond to a sexual abuse report in his diocese and shielded a priest currently amidst a trial for child pornography and sexual violence against minors. Despite these shocking allegations, Pope Francis openly lauded him. This is the point where you might argue, “They’re just allegations; nothing is proven.” And you aren’t wrong, my friend, but hold on to your horses. Evidence brought forth in the child abuse trial includes audio recordings of Gisana assuring the accused that there was another priest who had ‘done much worse things than him.’ Oh, and he also said this priest had the potential to become a saint. Sounds a bit more substantial than ‘just an allegation.’

The Big Deal

Now, if you’re wondering why I’m making a fuss, here’s why it rattles cages:

  • Francis has taken such a stance multiple times before.
  • It propels other high-ranking church figures down the same path.
  • Every unsolicited expression of support for an accused figure makes more victims, witnesses, and whistleblowers stay quiet, perpetuating a grim cycle of injustice and leaving children at risk.

This pattern is disheartening, to say the least.

Intentions vs Actions

I mean, let’s cut Pope Francis some slack. He probably aims to amend the church hierarchy’s approach to child sex crimes. After all, he is knowledgeable, has access to intellectuals at his behest, and has held significant positions in the church hierarchy all his life (as an Argentinian archbishop, cardinal, and now Pope).

But here’s my gripe with the situation: shouldn’t all this mean that he consistently sticks to perhaps the most important rule in abuse cases? That is, keep your mind open and your mouth shut.

That’s putting it bluntly, but hey, the truth needs to be spoken sometimes. Words carry weight, and when they come from a figure as influential as the Pope, they can be particularly harmful. His recent remarks essentially reflect an instinctive, immediate, and hurtful stance against those who reportedly were victims and in favor of those who allegedly did wrong. And that simply isn’t right.

As a parting note, let me clear the air. This isn’t a witch hunt against Pope Francis. It’s an appeal to prioritize the victims and ensure justice is served. After all, a healthy dose of empathy could have saved us from a lot of this discourse and bravado. Until there’s a change in this prevalent mindset, I fear we’ll keep seeing more such headlines, leaving victims feeling helpless and innocent children at risk.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by religious authority figures and other clergy. If you need a lawyer because a member of a religious organization sexually abused you, contact us today at 888-283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your options today. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse nationwide. We can help.