Dublin, Ireland, Sep 14, 2018 / 09:05 am
Pope Francis told a group of Jesuits during his visit to Dublin last month that elitism and clericalism in the Church are a cause of the abuse scandals in places such as the United States and Ireland.
“There is something I have understood with great clarity,” he said. “This drama of abuse, especially when it is widespread and gives great scandal – think of Chile, here in Ireland or in the United States – has behind it a Church that is elitist and clericalist, an inability to be near to the people of God.”
During his visit to Ireland last month, Pope Francis continued his tradition of stopping to meet with local Jesuits during a papal trip. The Aug. 25 meeting was closed to media, but the pope’s remarks were published by the Jesuit-run journal La Civilta Cattolica Sept. 13.
Speaking to a group of 63 Jesuits, mostly from Ireland, the pope said, “Elitism, clericalism fosters every form of abuse.” He asked for their help in putting an end to abuse, explaining that he meant more than to “simply turn the page.”
“Seek out a cure, reparation, all that is necessary to heal the wounds and give life back to so many people,” he said.
Francis went on to say that he believes “sexual abuse is not the first [abuse],” but that “the first abuse is of power and conscience. I ask you to help with this. Courage! Be courageous!”
Asked about concrete actions they could take against abuse, he said, “we have to denounce the cases we know about” and reiterated that “sexual abuse is the consequence of abuse of power and of conscience.”
Equating authoritarianism and clericalism, he asked, “who among us does not know an authoritarian bishop? Forever in the Church there have been authoritarian bishops and religious superiors.”