Pope Asks Forgiveness for “Evil” of Church Sex Abuse Epidemic. Survivors Highlight Concrete Actions He Must Take If Serious

April 11, 2014 – In response to Pope Francis’s statement today asking for “forgiveness for the damage [some priests] have done for having sexually abused children" and promising “sanctions”, the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, issued the following statement:

"Actions speak louder than words. If Pope Francis wants to meaningfully address this crisis and the institutional impunity that perpetuates it, there are three steps he must take.
  1. Remove all priests known to have raped children or others, and require reporting to secular authorities. Today, throughout the world, priests who are known to church officials continue to hold posts in congregations, schools, orphanages, and elsewhere, unbeknownst to local communities. The church has shown over and over that it cannot police itself. These matters must be turned over to the proper authorities, and it is well within the scope of  Pope Francis’s power to make sure this happens.
  2. Punish church officials who have covered up cases of rape and sexual violence by clergy, failed to report them, and obstructed investigations by law enforcement. Pope Francis’s promised “sanctions” must address the systemic impunity that helped to create the culture of rape and sexual violence that exists today within the church.
  3.  Encourage and protect church whistleblowers who have come forward with information about the crisis of sexual violence. So far church officials have intimidated and retaliated against whistleblowers. Pope Francis can and must work with whistleblowers to get to the root of the problem.
The Catholic Church is governed as a monarchy with the Pope having “supreme, immediate and universal ordinary power.” Pope Francis has all the authority he needs to move from words to action and stop further abuse."
The Center for Constitutional Rights represents the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests in their effort to hold high-level Vatican officials accountable for enabling and covering up widespread and systematic sexual violence against children in the Catholic Church. Learn more about this work, visit http://ccrjustice.org/snap

The Center for Constitutional Rights works with communities under threat to fight for justice and liberation through litigation, advocacy, and strategic communications. Since 1966, the Center for Constitutional Rights has taken on oppressive systems of power, including structural racism, gender oppression, economic inequity, and governmental overreach. Learn more at ccrjustice.org.


Last modified 

April 11, 2014