April 11, 2014 – In response to Pope Francis’s statement today asking for “forgiveness for the damage [some priests] have done for having sexually abused children" and promising “sanctions”, the Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, issued the following statement:
"Actions speak louder than words. If Pope Francis wants to meaningfully address this crisis and the institutional impunity that perpetuates it, there are three steps
he must take.
- Remove all priests known to have raped children or others, and require reporting to secular authorities. Today, throughout the world, priests who are known to church officials continue to hold posts in congregations, schools, orphanages, and elsewhere, unbeknownst to local communities. The church has shown over and over that it cannot police itself. These matters must be turned over to the proper authorities, and it is well within the scope of Pope Francis’s power to make sure this happens.
- Punish church officials who have covered up cases of rape and sexual violence by clergy, failed to report them, and obstructed investigations by law enforcement. Pope Francis’s promised “sanctions” must address the systemic impunity that helped to create the culture of rape and sexual violence that exists today within the church.
- Encourage and protect church whistleblowers who have come forward with information about the crisis of sexual violence. So far church officials have intimidated and retaliated against whistleblowers. Pope Francis can and must work with whistleblowers to get to the root of the problem.
The Catholic Church is governed as a monarchy with the Pope having “supreme, immediate and universal ordinary power.” Pope Francis has all the authority he needs to move from words to action and stop further abuse."
The Center for Constitutional Rights is dedicated to advancing and protecting the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Founded in 1966 by attorneys who represented civil rights movements in the South, CCR is a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change.