John Westen


It’s been a decade and we still haven’t heeded Pope JP II’s advice on the sex abuse crisis

John Westen

It has been 10 years since the extraordinary meeting between then-Pope John Paul II and the Cardinals of the United States dealing with the priestly sex abuse crisis. Since then, two of the three proposals of the Pope in addressing the matter have been taken up in full force, but one of those proposals remains largely unheeded.

At the conclusion of the meeting between Pope John Paul II and the Cardinals of the United States In April 2002, the pope gave the Cardinals three proposals to address the crisis: the first being that the “Pastors of the Church” should “publicly…reprimand individuals who spread dissent.”

“Doctrinal issues,” he said, underlie “the deplorable behavior in question.” 

He called for a visitation and correction of seminaries in the US which was duly carried out.

He also called for prayer for reparation.  And in January 2008 the Pope himself called on Catholics worldwide to pray and atone for the abuse.

However, number one on the pope’s list of suggested changes was “the Pastors of the Church need clearly to promote the correct moral teaching of the Church and publicly to reprimand individuals who spread dissent and groups which advance ambiguous approaches to pastoral care.”

That’s a tall order, and there remains much work to be done on that score.

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