Archbishop Mark Coleridge, President of the Australian bishops’ conference, said that the Australian bishops “share the Holy Father’s determination to protect young people and vulnerable adults,” He then added that the Pope’s words are important “but words are not enough.” Archbishop Coleridge added that “Now is the time for action on many levels.”
A similar call for action was made by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, of Galveston-Houston and president of the bishops’ conference. In a statement reacting to the Pope’s strong message in his letter to the People of God released on Monday, DiNardo said that the Pope’s words “must provoke action – especially by the bishops.”
Victims want action
Coleridge and DiNardo reflected the sentiments and statements made by many victims of clerical sex abuse who have been for years at the forefront of the struggle to reveal abuse.
Marie Collins, the Irish abuse survivor and campaigner who had resigned in frustration from the Pope’s committee against abuse said on Twitter that “statements from Vatican or Pope should stop telling us how terrible abuse is, and how all must be held accountable.” She added that instead such statement should tell all what the Vatican is doing to hold abusers accountable.
‘Working on it’ is not an acceptable explanation for decades of ‘delay’,” Collins wrote.
Juan Carlos Cruz, the Chilean who had been campaigning against his abuser, Father Fernando Karadima, for over a decade was more positive in his comments.
“I’m glad that the Vatican and the pope are using a language of ‘crime, delinquency, going to civil justice, cover-up’,” Cruz told Crux about the letter. “All of this is good.” While saying that he has a lot of hope in this letter he continued saying that “the bishops who continue trying to protect themselves by accusing the victims of wanting to attack the Church should leave, because those days are gone.”
Commission feels encouraged
A more optimistic assessment was made by the pope’s own commission for the protection of minors. In a statement released a day after the Vatican released the Pope’s letter, the commission said that it was “encouraged” by Francis’ words and promise of accountability for cover-up.
Professor Myriam Wijlens, a member of the commission and an expert in canon law, praised the pope’s decision to link sexual abuse to abuse of power and abuse of conscience. She said that a radical change of culture where the safety of children enjoys top priority was needed.