Video: Pope Francis Picks Up Church’s Cross

As we begin Holy Week, Pope Francis modeled for all Christians the way of humility and what it means to take up the cross and bear the sin – actual sin – of the church and the world.

In unscripted remarks to the France-based International Catholic Child Bureau, the Pope took responsibility for the harm done by priests against children in the pedophilia scandal. While other popes have castigated the abusers and prayed for the victims, none have take personal responsibility. Pope Francis said:

“I feel that I must take responsibility for all the harm that some priests – quite a number, but not in proportion to the total – I must take responsibility and ask forgiveness for the damage they have caused through sexual abuse of children. The Church is aware of this damage. It is their own personal and moral damage, but they are men of the Church. And we will not take one step backwards in dealing with this problem and the sanctions that must be imposed. On the contrary, I believe that we must be even stronger. You do not interfere with children.”

Colm O’Gorman: ‘Wilful Blindness Creates Monsters’

Colm O’Gorman, founder and former director of One in Four, a non-governmental organisation that supports women and men who have experienced sexual abuse, wrote a strong essay in the UK’s The Tablet this week on the Jimmy Savile pedophilia case.

Savile was a popular media personality in the UK for more than 30 years. He was both knighted by the Queen and given a papal knighthood from the Vatican. Savile run and contributed to a number of charities and is estimated to have raised £40 million for charity. After his death a year ago, police began investigating long-standing allegations of child sexual abuse.

The police now describe him as a “predatory sex offender” and are pursuing over 400 separate lines of inquiry based on the testimony of 300 potential victims via fourteen police forces across the UK.

O’Gorman asks why it took so long when everyone knew that Savile was “into little girls.” With powerful people and in powerful institutions it is easy to look the other way when something “unseemly” arises, but people of faith need to keep our fires of righteous anger stoked so we are ready to confront directly those predatory forces that stalk the vulnerable.

Here’s an excerpt from Colm O’Gorman commentary “Silence is Sin”:

“… [P]owerful institutions rarely cast an objectively critical eye inwards. Power rarely subjects itself to honest and open scrutiny, and when it either discovers serious wrongdoing within its own ranks, or indeed is itself guilty of wrongdoing, it often acts to cover up such corruption in an effort to protect its reputation and its authority.

Such wilful blindness creates monsters. The crimes of child abusers … are only possible within a culture of silence and denial. It has often been said that those who sexually abuse children rely upon secrecy, that sexual abuse is possible because it is a secret crime and that its victims are silent and voiceless. Surely, we need to question that view. What the abuse scandals in the Church, and now with Jimmy Savile, reveal is that secrecy is not the enabler of such crimes but rather silence is; the silence of those who shared rumour and gossip but who failed to act to protect desperately vulnerable children and young people.”–Colm O’Gorman, Silence is Sin (The Tablet)

e-Vatican: 142 Years of Official Documents Go Online

Benedict and RowanFrom 1865 until 2007. From Pope Pius IX to Benedict XVI. There will no doubt be much scholarly debate on this new online content once these 142 years of monthly Vatican reports get translated out of Latin (!) into something the contemporary world understands.

The initial point of interest seems to be the unofficial texts relating to the period around the Second World War. These documents are separated out in files of their own.

The Catholic Church’s role in WWII has long been a tension between Jewish leaders and the Vatican. One the one hand Pope Pius XII signed the Reichskonkordat between Germany and the Vatican in 1933 to support Hitler’s moves against Communism; and many Catholics at every level of the society aligned with the Nazis in their “purity” campaign, including assisting in exposing and killing Jews. On the other hand, there was a strong underground Catholic popular movement to resist Hitler and to protect Jews from harassment, imprisonment, and execution.

The newly accessible Vatican files should offer greater understanding of the dynamics of the time and hopefully bring greater honesty and authenticity to Catholic-Jewish relations. When Pope Benedict XVI visited the Great Synagogue of Rome in 2009, some Jewish leaders asked him to open “all Vatican archives” regarding the pontificate of Pius XII, from 1939 to 1958, and to thoroughly investigate his policy regarding Jews. Now, that has been done.

The Vatican has proved itself capable of transparency on the very difficult issue of WWII and the Holocaust. Will it be so bold to act with transparency on the pedophilia scandal?

Here’s an excerpt from Luigi Sandri’s article on the new online content:

The documents show that during the pontificate of Paul VI, from 1963 to 1978, there was concerted discussion on accusations of “silence” by Pius XII during the Second World War on the Holocaust.

Accusations were that Pius XII never openly and unequivocally protested against the Holocaust and some historians have accused him of accepting actions of Nazi Germany under its dictator Adolf Hitler.

The Vatican has often rebutted this accusation by saying that while it did not condemn the Holocaust, Pius XII strongly encouraged a wide network of Roman Catholics – in parishes, families and monasteries – throughout Europe to help thousands of Jews escape death.

Documents show that Pope Paul VI entrusted a group of four Jesuit historians, headed by the Rev. Pierre Blet, to edit the Acts and documents of Holy See regarding the Second World War.

From 1965 to 1981 the group published 12 volumes. They contain not only official documents, but also letters of the secretary of state, of papal nuncios, and private letters of bishops to the pope. On the whole, according to the Vatican, these documents show that the Holy See did a lot to help Jews during the period.

Read the whole article here.