'Elitist, clericalist' church allows abuse to thrive, pope says

IMAGE: CNS photo/Paul Haring

By Cindy Wooden

CITY (CNS) — Sexual and physical abuse by priests and religious and the scandal
of its cover-up by church authorities thrive in countries where the Catholic
Church is “elitist and clericalist,” Pope Francis told Jesuits in
Ireland in August.

is something I have understood with great clarity: this drama of abuse,
especially when it is widespread and gives great scandal — think of Chile,
here in Ireland or in the United States — has behind it a church that is
elitist and clericalist, an inability to be near to the people of God,”
the pope told the Jesuits during a meeting Aug. 25 in Dublin.

is customary when the pope meets Jesuits during a foreign trip, a transcript of
his remarks to the 63 Jesuits he met in Ireland was published by the Jesuit
journal La Civilta Cattolica
after the pope had approved the text; it was released Sept. 13.

Francis met the Jesuits in Dublin immediately after meeting eight people who
had survived abuse at the hands of priests or in schools, mother and baby homes
or other institutions operated by the church or Catholic religious orders.

didn’t know that in Ireland there were also cases where unmarried women had
their children taken away from them,” the pope told the Jesuits, referring
to the practice at many homes for unwed mothers. “Hearing this
particularly touched my heart,” he said.

Francis asked the Jesuits for “special help: help the church in Ireland
put an end to this. And what do I mean by put an end to it? I don’t mean simply
turn the page, but seek out a cure, reparation, all that is necessary to heal
the wounds and give life back to so many people.”

root of the problem, he said, is elitism or clericalism. The two attitudes
foster “every form of abuse. And sexual abuse is not the first. The first
abuse is of power and conscience.”

confronting abuse and the church culture that allows it to fester, Pope Francis
told the Jesuits, “Courage! Be courageous!”

is a special mission for you: clean this up, change consciences, do not be
afraid to call things by their name,” he told the group.

of the Jesuits asked the pope for concrete examples of what they should be

have to denounce the cases we know about,” the pope responded. “And
sexual abuse is the consequence of abuse of power and of conscience as I said
before. The abuse of power exists. Who among us does not know an authoritarian
bishop? Forever in the church there have been authoritarian bishops and
religious superiors. And authoritarianism is clericalism.”

and acting decisively and with authority — for example, in giving a priest an
assignment — is not the same thing as authoritarianism, he said. “We need
to defeat authoritarianism,” but rediscover the virtue of obedience when
being sent in mission.

– – –

Copyright © 2018 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. www.catholicnews.com. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at cns@catholicnews.com.

Original Article