By: Tanvi Mittal (Correspondent)
Pope Francis was recently accused of covering up several sexual abuse allegations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó, the previous Vatican ambassador, who in a letter accused the pope of knowing from as early as 2013 about the abuse. In response to this, Pope Francis has called a meeting in February for all the Catholic bishops to discuss the issue of sexual abuse and determine ways to prevent it. This is unprecedented because no pope has ever called such a large scale meeting before to discuss the issue.
Pope Francis says he commits to fixing this global problem, which also came to light in Boston in 2002 when several priests and bishops were accused of covering up sexual abuse in community churches. The latest crisis involves several leaders of the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania who, according to The New York Times, abused and covered up sexual abuse of over a thousand victims.
Mr. Chuck Fazzio, social studies coordinator, says that the church cannot “keep on sweeping things under the rug. [While the pope] was doing progressive things…the Catholic Church is long overdue in cleaning house,” said Fazzio.
The Catholic Church has started to tackle the problem with prevention programs, like the safe environment training to recognize the behavior of offenders. The Catholic Church is also pushing for resignations, says Ms. Hannah Cohen, a history teacher.
While some say that the meeting is a good way to address the issue, others are skeptical. Fazzio added that while the meeting will be productive, “the real way to clean house is to either excommunicate or turn over the names to authorities.”
Others are apprehensive of the true motives of the meeting. Ms. Hannah Cohen says that there is definitely “showmanship” to it. “Pope Francis is definitely bringing the right people together and he is trying to make it as transparent as possible,” she added.
Parents of children who attend church are faced with many dilemmas because of the issue. “One of the most painful things is this deep question I have of: Do I trust my church with my kids? And the answer right now is: Kinda no,” says Susan Reynolds, an assistant professor of Catholic studies at Emory University in Atlanta said in a CNN interview.
Cohen says that the changes have already started to move in the right direction, but there is still some way to go.