Pope Francis arrives to lead his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square on Aug. 29 at the Vatican. (Photo by Alberto Pizzoli/AFP)
"We showed no care for the little ones, we abandoned them," said Pope Francis in a letter to the church wherein he condemned clericalism, arrogance, abuse of power and position of bishops and religious superiors in the church that allow and cover up, and thus perpetuate, sexual crimes against children.
Pope Francis takes a stand with the victims and vows to stamp out and hold accountable those who abused children and those bishops and religious superiors who hid the truth and ignored the victims.
The pope's letter is for all who care to read it, but between the lines it seems to be aimed at those powerful people in the church who oppose him and his efforts to cleanse and reform sections of a corrupt hierarchy.
Solidarity and community action is needed to stop child abuse and the covering up from ever happening again. He spoke in response to the revelations of a U.S. grand jury that said 300 priests abused more than 1,000 children in the past 70 years.
American Cardinal Weurl withdrew from the World Meeting of Families last month due to these shocking revelations. Pope Francis admitted shame and apologized to the victims and survivors of clerical abuse and asked for forgiveness.
"It is essential that we, as a church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable," he said.
"Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others."
He praised the survivors and those campaigners around the world for protecting children, and he invited them to work to help him implement zero tolerance of child sexual abuse.
He apologized for the delay in taking direct action to help victims and bring the abusers to justice "as well as implementing zero tolerance and ways of making all those who perpetrate or cover up these crimes accountable."
"We have delayed in applying these actions and sanctions that are so necessary," wrote the pontiff.
What that action will be is yet to be seen, but hopefully it will be action whereby "the mighty will be taken down from their thrones, and the rich sent away empty."
We believe he said this in a veiled reference to the powerful cardinals and bishops, especially those in the United States who oppose him and call him a heretic. Hopefully all those who covered up crimes against children will resign.
In Chile, Pope Francis was deliberately misled by members of the hierarchy. He was lied to about the covering up of child abuse, but he found it out and called all 35 bishops to Rome where they all submitted their letters of resignation. He accepted five.
These clerics are powerful because not only are some of them child abusers but they have a network of pedophile priests and bishops who thwart revelations and block legal action. They have money and power too.
The mighty that sit on thrones have likely financial investments in the Vatican Bank and control Vatican institutions and control huge donations to the Vatican itself. Like corrupt politicians, they block investigations and reform.
In the letter, Pope Francis condemned clericalism.
"Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today.
To say "no" to abuse is to say an emphatic "no" to all forms of clericalism.
Pope Francis is up against a network of clerics, corrupt bishops and priests and some cardinals and lay people who are against him and his many reforms. He has achieved much in five years and struggles against bureaucracy that is entrenched and blocks his reforms.
But he is making great progress despite the thousands of years of clericalism.
Pope Benedict XVI resigned, it is said, when he was unable to successfully challenge the abuse and corrupt clerics that thwarted his efforts to confront the corruption in the institution.
Pope Francis quotes his prayer on Good Friday 2005 when Benedict (then a cardinal) said: "How much filth there is in the church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to! How much pride, how much self-complacency!”
That’s why he is saying that he alone cannot fight the "mighty" that sit on thrones, and he calls on the support and solidarity of the whole church to help and sustain him in his reforms.
He takes on himself the blame for these abusers even though he has never been a part of their clerical network.
He says that "such solidarity demands that we in turn condemn whatever endangers the integrity of any person." What we need, he said, is "a solidarity that summons us to fight all forms of corruption, especially spiritual corruption."
These corrupt prelates are his enemies in the Vatican curia and those in the worldwide pedophile support network of bishops, archbishops and even cardinals.
In Australia, where hundreds of priests have abused children over decades, Archbishop Wilson has been convicted of covering up crimes. Cardinal Penn is on trial in Melbourne for alleged child abuse and for covering up abuse by priests.
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, 88, in the United States has stepped down because of credible allegations of his involvement in child abuse and covering up. He has already received orders from Pope Francis to lead a life of prayer and penance and will face a canonical trial.
The church is really the "People of God." Our faith ought not be too troubled because our faith is not in the church as a human institution but in Jesus of Nazareth and his message as revealed in the Gospels.
These values are the heart of our Christian and Catholic faith. The institution has been in part corrupted and infiltrated by a mafia-like fraternity that is accused of participating in child abuse and cover-ups.
Working in solidarity with Pope Francis, it can be overcome and children will be safe and protected and the abusers brought to justice.
Irish Father Shay Cullen, SSC, established the Preda Foundation in Olongapo City in 1974 to promote human rights and the rights of children, especially victims of sexual abuse.