O’Malley says cardinals’ denial of the seriousness of sexual abuse is fading

O’Malley says cardinals’ denial of the seriousness of sexual abuse is fading

ROME — Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley said Monday that denial among some of his fellow cardinals from around the world about the seriousness of the Church’s child sexual abuse scandals, if not quite dead, has at least been driven underground — in part because of the strong example of Pope Francis.

“The fact that the Holy Father was willing to write a letter to all the bishops’ conferences calling on them to meet with victims is extremely important,” O’Malley said in an exclusive interview with Crux.

“There’s great concern (among the cardinals) and a realization the Church has to do something, but a lot of people don’t know what to do,” he said. “They’re open to listening.”


At the same time, he acknowledged that a huge gap remains in the Church’s response, especially accountability for bishops who drop the ball in making “zero tolerance” policies stick, and that the Church’s inaction to date had hurt its credibility.

On that front, O’Malley said he hopes to have a “pretty finished product” in terms of a new accountability system, including a tribunal located within the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, to present to the pope within two months.

On other matters, O’Malley told Crux:

  • A proposal from the pope’s council of nine cardinal-advisors, a body on which O’Malley sits, to create two super-departments in the Vatican, one for justice and peace and the other for the family and laity, is not just a hypothesis, but “the way things are going.”
  • A layperson may not be able to serve as the top official of those new offices, but the cardinals have asked for clarification on how laity, and especially women, can hold other positions of leadership in the Curia, the Vatican’s main administrative bureaucracy.
  • O’Malley wasn’t surprised by a recent report to cardinals that the Vatican has $1.5 billion in previously unreported assets, because Vatican accounting systems until recently “left room for a lot of corruption.”
  • He said the pope’s elevation on Saturday of cardinals from a staggeringly global variety of locales, including first-ever cardinals from Myanmar, Cape Verde and Tonga, was “really encouraging.”



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