The Pope’s Previous Controversies

Francis drew criticism in 2013 for appearing in his initial presentation on the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica with retired Belgian cardinal Godfried Danneels, as well as appointments he received from Francis. Danneels had previously recommended silence on sex-crimes committed by priests. In 2014, his rehabilitation of Fr. Mauro Inzoli, who was defrocked in 2012 for sexually abusing minors, sparked controversy.[482]

In 2015, Francis was criticized for supporting Chilean bishop Juan Barros, who was accused over covering up sex crimes committed against minors.[483] In February 2017, further criticism from clergy sex abuse survivors erupted when it was revealed that Francis had quietly made the Church-recommended sentence for clergy convicted of sex abuse a lifetime of prayer rather than a recommendation to serve time in jail.[484][485] In 2018, Francis acknowledged he had made “grave errors in judgment” about Barros, apologized to the victims and launched a Vatican investigation that resulted in all of Chile’s active bishops offering to resign.

Francis has apologized for child sex abuse in the Church. Nevertheless, there have been widespread calls for stronger action against abusers. For example, Australian, Melbourne’s 7 News television broadcasts combined Francis’ apology for the “Catholic Church’s failure to address decades of ‘repugnant’ sexual abuse by paedophile priests”, with footage of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s speech and several protests. Headlines in The Guardian included “Irish PM: time to move Catholic church from centre of society”, and “Pope Francis failed to act on US abuse claims, says former Vatican envoy”.[486] Varadkar mentioned the grand jury report over abuse in Pennsylvania, referred to “brutal crimes perpetrated by people within the Catholic church, and then obscured to protect the institution at the expense of innocent victims”.

On 25 August 2018, days after Francis had issued an apology for abuses by clergy in the US.[487] Before his apology in Ireland,[333] former papal nuncio Carlo Maria Viganò released an 11-page letter in which he claimed that Francis decided to remove restrictions placed by Pope Benedict XVI against Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick, a known sexual abuser,[488] promoting him as his trusted advisor. According to Viganò, Francis “knew from at least June 23, 2013 that McCarrick was a serial predator. He knew that he was a corrupt man, he covered for him to the bitter end.” Viganò called on Francis to resign. Francis acknowledged that he had read Viganò’s letter but said that he did not plan to comment on it publicly.[489]

The Pope’s Moral Beliefs

Asked what he’d tell a parent who finds out his child is gay, the pope said: “I would first tell him to pray, not to condemn, to dialogue, to understand, to make a space for the son or daughter to express him or herself.”

The pontiff also said that if the “tendency is manifested” during childhood, “there’s a lot that can be done with psychiatry to see how things are,” but that when the tendency is manifested when the person is “20 or so,” it’s different.

“I would never say that silence is a solution, to ignore a son or a daughter with a homosexual tendency is a lack of paternity [or maternity],” he said. “Always dialogue, because that son, that daughter, has the right to a family. Don’t send them away. This is a big challenge.” 

False accusations against priests

Francis was asked about a petition calling for the resignation of French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, France, who is facing criminal prosecution for allegedly failing to act on a case of abuse. The pope deflected part of the question and never mentioned Barbarin. He said that if there are “suspicions, evidence or half-evidence,” there’s nothing wrong with launching an investigation, but always upholding the legal principle of innocent until proven guilty. He warned journalists against creating an “environment of culpability,” offering the example of an allegation that arose three years ago against priests from Granada, Spain, who had allegedly abused minors and supposedly were part of a homosexual ring. The allegation was first made to the pope by a 23-year old young man, a professor at a prestigious Catholic school. Francis suggested the alleged victim speak with the local bishop, who took it to the civil authorities, resulting in an investigation against the 10 alleged abusers.

The priests, Francis said, “suffered the hatred, the insults of the entire town. They couldn’t leave their homes.” Yet earlier this year, civil authorities declared the allegations to be unfounded, with the accuser sentenced to pay legal fees.

The pontiff also called on parents to speak up on behalf of their own children.

“Many times, it’s the parents who cover up the abuses of a priest. So many times. You see it in the sentences. They don’t believe. Or, they convince themselves that it’s not true,” he said, and the victims are left alone.

Francis then told the story of a woman he welcomed once in the Vatican: “I welcome a [survivor] or two a week,” he said, citing a woman who suffered “this plague of silence” for 40 years because her parents didn’t believe her when she said she’d been abused when she was eight.

“Speak up. It’s important,” the pope insisted. 

On a bishop accountability panel

Francis was asked about repeated requests made by Irish abuse survivor Marie Collins, a former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, for the Vatican to institute a tribunal to judge bishops who cover up cases of abuse. Francis said he has “high regard” for Collins, but that she’s a “bit fixated” on the question creating a tribunal.

He said that the fact that there isn’t a single tribunal in the Vatican doesn’t mean bishops aren’t being judged. On the contrary, he said, since there are cultural differences in every situation, instead of having a one-size-fits all solution, ad-hoc tribunals are set up to try each case. [450]

“[You, journalists] have to accompany, say things, but always under the legal presumption of innocence and not of guilt,” – Pope Francis

Onto the Allegations

The Pope was recently subject to much speculation when he acknowledged that priests within churches have been known to be sexually abusive, and to have raped women. Of course, much of the public are aware of the stereotype around priests and that this is probably true, but the Pope acknowledging it really does shed light on the corrupt backbone of our world- sexual abuse lies in the very thing we call ‘pure’. The priest some pray to is actually committing sin after sin, with no repent; he is exploiting the system.

Pope Francis has said the credibility of the Catholic Church in the US has been severely damaged by the ongoing child sexual abuse scandal there. Efforts to cover up the crimes had caused even greater harm, he said in a letter delivered to US bishops attending a retreat in Chicago. He urged the bishops to end internal bickering and show unity as they tried to tackle the crisis. The Pope’s comments on child abuse have grown stronger over time.

In an extensive letter released by the Vatican, the Pope says the “hurt caused” has generated “division and dispersion” within the ranks of US bishops.

“God’s faithful people and the Church’s mission continue to suffer greatly as a result of abuses of power and conscience and sexual abuse, and the poor way that they were handled,” he wrote, adding bishops had “concentrated more on pointing fingers than on seeking paths of reconciliation. Combating the culture of abuse, the loss of credibility, the resulting bewilderment and confusion, and the discrediting of our mission urgently demands of us a renewed and decisive approach to resolving conflicts” – Pope Francis

The Pope ordered priests to surrender in preparation for ‘Divine Justice’

In his annual speech to the Curia, the central administration of the Vatican, Pope Francis urged predator priests to surrender and make themselves available for “divine justice.” The pontiff made a public promise on December 22 that the Vatican will never again dismiss or engage in a cover-up of sexual abuse cases. The speech comes after a fractious year of cover-ups and sexual misconduct which nearly capsized his papacy and resulted in the near destruction of confidence in the Catholic hierarchy. 

Pope Francis admitted the Catholic Church hasn’t taken such grave issues lightly and blamed leaders who due to inexperience or shortsightedness acted in an irresponsible manner by staunchly refusing to believe the victims. The pontiff assured those in attendance that the church will never again dismiss or conceal any more incidences of such nature. The message by Pope Francis comes at the end of a year which could only be described as painful to the church. The year began by Francis vociferously defending a bishop in Chile who was accused of actively covering up the actions of pedophile priests. The pope also dismissed the testimony of abuse survivors describing them as “slander.” The pontiff admitted his mistake only a few months later admitting he made “grave errors” when it came to managing the abuse crisis in the South American country. To add a further nail to the Vatican’s reputation coffin, Lisa Madigan, the Attorney General of Illinois, released a hard-hitting report which accused the Illinois Catholic Church of not releasing the names of 500 priests accused of abuse. Her preliminary report submitted the conclusion that the Catholic dioceses cannot be trusted to investigate themselves and the sexual abuse crisis besetting the clergy will not resolve by itself. [452] 


[1] Wikipedia   

[2] Zimbalist, Sherman and Brown, Andrew, Howard J. and Stuart (October 1988). Comparing Economic Systems: A Political-Economic Approach. Harcourt College Pub. pp. 6–7. ISBN 978-0-15-512403-5. Pure capitalism is defined as a system wherein all of the means of production (physical capital) are privately owned and run by the capitalist class for a profit, while most other people are workers who work for a salary or wage (and who do not own the capital or the product).

[3] Rosser, Mariana V.; Rosser, J Barkley (23 July 2003). Comparative Economics in a Transforming World Economy. MIT Press. p. 7. ISBN 978-0-262-18234-8. In capitalist economies, land and produced means of production (the capital stock) are owned by private individuals or groups of private individuals organized as firms.

[4] Chris Jenks. Core Sociological Dichotomies. “Capitalism, as a mode of production, is an economic system of manufacture and exchange which is geared toward the production and sale of commodities within a market for profit, where the manufacture of commodities consists of the use of the formally free labor of workers in exchange for a wage to create commodities in which the manufacturer extracts surplus value from the labor of the workers in terms of the difference between the wages paid to the worker and the value of the commodity produced by him/her to generate that profit.” London; Thousand Oaks, CA; New Delhi. Sage. p. 383.

[5] Heilbroner, Robert L. “Capitalism”. Steven N. Durlauf and Lawrence E. Blume, eds. The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics. 2nd ed. (Palgrave Macmillan, 2008

[6] Louis Hyman and Edward E. Baptist (2014). American Capitalism: A Reader. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1-4767-8431-1.

[7] Gregory and Stuart, Paul and Robert (28 February 2013). The Global Economy and its Economic Systems. South-Western College Pub. p. 41. ISBN 978-1-285-05535-0. Capitalism is characterized by private ownership of the factors of production. Decision making is decentralized and rests with the owners of the factors of production. Their decision making is coordinated by the market, which provides the necessary information. Material incentives are used to motivate participants.

[8] “Definition of CAPITALISM”. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved 23 March 2018.

[333] “‘No more apologies’: Pope’s visit fails to soothe Irish fury over abuse”. CNN. Atlanta. 20 June 2018. Retrieved 27 August 2018.

[482] Pullella, Philip (21 September 2017). “Pope candidly admits Church ‘arrived late’ in confronting abuse”. London, England. Reuters. Retrieved 15 September 2018.

[483] Kirchgaessner, Stephanie (31 March 2015). “Vatican supports Chilean bishop despite allegations of sex abuse cover-up”. The Guardian. London, England: Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 11 February 2017.

[484] News, ABC. “ABC News”. Retrieved 21 March 2017

[485] Joshi, Priya (25 February 2017). “Pope Francis reduces penalties for paedophile priests to a lifetime of prayer”. International Business Times. New York City: Newsweek Media Group. Retrieved 21 March 2017.

[486] Donnelly, Katherine (27 August 2018). “Global headlines focus on child abuse scandal”. The Independent. London, England: Independent Print Ltd. Retrieved 27 October 2018.

[487] Ortiz, Erik (20 August 2018). “Pope apologizes for priest sex abuse scandal with ‘sorrow and shame’”. NBC News. New York City. Retrieved 27 August 2018.

[488] Povoledo, Elisabetta; Otterman, Sharon (28 July 2018). “Cardinal Theodore McCarrick Resigns Amid Sexual Abuse Scandal”. The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. Retrieved 29 October 2018.

[489] Inés San Martín (August 27, 2018). “On charges of McCarrick cover-up, Francis tells reporters to do their jobs”. Crux. Retrieved November 27, 2018.