We received an excellent lesson this past Friday on how the mainstream media distorts the truth.
First, here's the Vatican's press release:
FRANCIS: ACT DECISIVELY AGAINST SEXUAL ABUSE
Vatican City, 5 April 2013 (VIS) – This morning the Holy Father received in audience Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Muller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. A communique released by that dicastery reads that, during the course of the audience, various issues pertaining to the Congregation were discussed. In particular, the Holy Father recommended that the Congregation, continuing along the lines set by Benedict XVI, act decisively with regard to cases of sexual abuse, first of all by promoting measures for the protection of minors, as well as in offering assistance to those who have suffered abuse, carrying out due proceedings against the guilty, and in the commitment of bishops' conferences to formulate and implement the necessary directives in this area that is so important for the Church's witness and credibility....The Holy Father assured that victims of abuse are present in a particular way in his prayers for those who are suffering.
• No public statement was made by Pope Francis.
• What he purportedly said only to Muller was relayed via the propaganda agency of an absolute dictatorship.
• According to the Vatican, various items were discussed with Muller, but “in particular,” Pope Francis recommended that the Congregation continue “along the lines set by Benedict XVI"
• by “acting decisively with regard to cases of sexual abuse, first of all by promoting measures for the protection of minors" [promoting only, not by making sure any measures were carried out].
• "as well as in offering assistance to those who have suffered abuse [which neither the Vatican in general nor the Congregation in particular nor Cardinal Bergoglio has ever done],
• "carrying out due proceedings against the guilty [child rapists are never excommunicated, only advocates of women's ordination],"
• "and in the commitment of bishops' conferences to formulate and implement the necessary directives in this area that is so important for the Church's witness and credibility [but solely at the discretion of the bishops if they choose to do so or not. Cardinal Bergoglio did not]."
No bishop, archbishop or cardinal has been reprimanded, held accountable or punished for lying, covering-up, or protecting any pedophile. Nor was anything done about sex abuse by non-ordained men (brothers) and women (sisters or nuns) in religious orders.
A year ago, Pope Benedict named Boston priest Fr. Robert W. Oliver as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s promoter of justice, the “chief prosecutor” deciding cases involving clerical pedophiles. As Assistant to the Moderator of the Curia for Canonical Affairs of the Archdiocese of Boston, “Oliver has shaped the Boston archdiocese's handling of abuse cases for the last decade.”
Four charges were made against him:
1. He eliminated a provision requiring the immediate removal of accused priests.
2. He limited victims' access to the archdiocese's files on their cases.
3. Under his leadership, the archdiocese ‘cleared’ a very high percentage of accused priests.
4. Under his leadership, the church tribunal has failed to rule on the cases of 15 accused priests.
As per the Vatican's statement, Pope Francis recommends that the above continue as is. He only offers his prayers to the Church's victims.
The media reacted with its usual deferential fawning over the new pope with the following headlines and ledes:
POPE SEEKS DECISIVE ACTION AGAINST SEX ABUSE. Pope Francis, in one of his first substantive actions since his election three weeks ago, signals that local bishops' conferences should step up to discipline priests, serve victims. USA Today
POPE FRANCIS URGES DECISIVE ACTION AGAINST SEX ABUSE. Pope Francis wants the Catholic Church to "act decisively" to root out sexual abuse of children by priests and ensure the perpetrators are punished, the Vatican said on Friday. Reuters
POPE FRANCIS SAYS HE WILL ACT 'WITH DETERMINATION' AGAINST SEX ABUSE CASES IN CHURCH. Pope Francis directed the Vatican on Friday to act decisively on clergy sex abuse cases and punish pedophile priests, saying the Catholic Church’s “credibility” was on the line. Associated Press
POPE FRANCIS CALLS FOR ‘DECISIVE ACTION’ ON CLERICAL SEX ABUSE. Pope Francis told his staff to take "decisive action" when it comes to cases of clerical sex abuse of minors. NPR
POPE FRANCIS TO CATHOLIC CHURCH: ‘ACT DECISIVELY’ TO PUNISH PEDOPHILE PRIESTS. Doing so is necessary 'for the church and its credibility,' Francis said, according to the Vatican. It was the first time Francis publically addressed the festering sex abuse issue since he was elected last month. Daily News
POPE FRANCIS CALLS FOR ACTION ON CLERICAL SEX ABUSE....It was the Argentine Pope's first public statement on clerical sex abuse. BBC
POPE FRANCIS: CHURCH MUST ‘ACT DECISIVELY’ AGAINST PAEDOPHILE PRIESTS. Pope Francis said the Catholic Church must "act decisively" against the scourge of paedophile priests, in his first public remarks on the scandal since being elected last month. The Telegraph
POPE WANTS DECISIVE ACTION TO ROOT OUT SEXUAL ABUSE OF CHILDREN BY PRIESTS. Pope Francis wants the Catholic Church to "act decisively" to root out sexual abuse of children by priests and ensure the perpetrators are punished. RTE News
Admittedly, most of the articles also quoted leaders of SNAP (the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) stating they wanted action not words from Bergoglio, but if you had only read the headline and lede you wouldn't have known that. In fact, Pope Francis' only "action" so far as relates to sex abuse was to "discreetly" greet Boston's disgraced Cardinal Law the morning after he became pontiff. (Rumors that Francis would "exile" Law were false.)
Following these headlines, Fr. Jorge Oesterheld, described as “senior aide and confidante” to Bergoglio as well as spokesman for the bishops’ conference in Argentina during the six years (2005-2011) Cardinal Bergoglio was its president, gave an interview.
He stated he was certain that the pope would “continue the same approach that began with Benedict XVI” regarding sex abuse. “I don’t think you should expect any novelties or changes in course, because the line developed under Benedict XVI is the one that ought to be followed.” That is, the new pope will continue a policy of “zero tolerance” regarding priests found guilty of child sexual abuse and not allowing them to minister to children any longer. Also, Pope Francis would hold bishops accountable but Oesterheld didn't specify what exactly “hold accountable” meant nor when the pope would begin this policy.
As regards the case of the notorious Fr. Grassi, a convicted sex offender who called his foundation Felices los Niños, “Happy Children,” Oesterheld said “The cardinal’s approach was to wait to see what the justice system would conclude about Grassi. He never wanted to get ahead of the criminal investigation and trial, because his idea was to let the justice system run its course without trying to pre-judge its conclusions.” Oesterheld failed to mention that “church officials led by Bergoglio commissioned a lengthy private report arguing that Grassi was innocent. The report was submitted as part of the priest’s legal appeal, which is pending, and prosecutors say the document has helped Grassi avoid jail time so far.”
“Oesterheld also addressed the failure of the Argentine bishop’s conference to meet a Vatican-imposed deadline of May 2012 for submitting anti-sex abuse guidelines.” He claimed it was due to Bergoglio’s “respect for the local authority” of each bishop. Would any senior prelate allow “local authority of each bishop” on matters such as married priests, abortion or women’s ordination?
As regards same-sex marriage, per Oesterheld “Bergoglio accepted the desire of a majority of bishops to take a hard line against any compromise solution, without imposing ‘his own feelings on the matter.’” Again, Oesterman failed to mention that Bergoglio referred to legislation approving same-sex marriage as “a destructive pretension against the plan of God” and “a move by the Father of Lies which aims to confuse and deceive the children of God.”
Finally, Oesterheld tells us that situations similar to this past Friday will continue. Pope Francis “is not really good himself in dealing with the media, so it’ll be important to him to have people around him who know how to do it.” So we can expect more press releases by skilled reporters rather than hearing the pope’s own words on any controversial subject.