The Asian and African bishops showed a moderate interest so that the Church tackles the question of sexual abuse of the clergy, a problem perceived as “Western” in a world assembly, which represents a new setback for Pope Francis.
This synod, which lasted a month, brought up 267 cardinals, bishops and Christian patriarchs from all five continents until Sunday at the Vatican and was dedicated to young people, the most sensitive to sexual crimes committed by the clergy.
In the face of growing indignation over this problem, Pope Francis announced at the beginning of October a series of measures to address the culture of silence that prevails in the Church in Europe, the United States, Latin America or Australia. These would also affect the Catholic hierarchy.
Sexual abuse divide the Catholic church
“Both the abuses and their silence cannot continue to be tolerated and must be treated differently by the bishops who committed them or those who silenced them, as they give an unacceptable image of the clergy,” Francisco said, three days after the start of the synod.
The pope also called for an investigation into the archives of the Vatican before the accusations of an Italian prelate of having omitted the warnings that came to him about an American cardinal, accused of being a sexual predator.
During the synod, the pope also formalized the resignations of two bishops after being accused of sexually assaulting minors. He also accepted the resignation of Cardinal Donald Wuerl, of Washington, suspected of having silenced a great scandal of sexual abuse in the Northeastern United States.
The protection of minors debated in February
After the conclusion of this world assembly, all eyes are now focused on the exceptional meeting scheduled for the end of February in which all the presidents of the episcopal conferences of the world will specifically address “the protection of minors”.
“I am convinced that the Pope organized this meeting to do something concrete,” US Cardinal Blase Joseph Cupich told reporters.
This cardinal acknowledged that at the synod sexual abuse “was not the priority issue of all countries”, pointing directly to the ecclesiastical representatives of Asian and African countries.
“The resistance of some bishops” limited the debates in the synod, lamented the archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, in statements to the Catholic News Service. “Some say it is a problem unique to the Western world,” he acknowledged surprised.
According to the president of the Irish episcopal conference, Eamon Martin, some churches in the world prefer to ignore this problem and have not given enough importance. For this reason, he hopes that the February meeting “will help to ensure that more countries take this issue seriously”.
“The situation is urgent, it is a matter of survival for the Church in its current form,” said Cardinal Reinhard Marx, counselor of the pope and president of the German episcopal conference, himself questioned after the publication of a report he denounced. a great scandal of sexual abuse in Germany.
“The problem is present in the whole world,” Marx added. He said it is not enough to assume the blame, but also “fundamentally changing the system” with the help of new “mechanisms” of prevention and responsibility.