Pope Francis orders new bishops to ‘just say no to abuse’

Pope Francis has ordered newly ordained bishops to “just say no to abuse – of power, conscience or any type” as he faces allegations that he covered up child sexual abuse.

The pontiff told the 75 bishops, hailing from 34 countries of Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania, not to work “as lone actors outside the chorus” when he addressed them at the Vatican on Saturday.

“Saying no to abuse,” he said, “means saying no with force to every form of clericalism”.

“The bishop can’t have all the gifts – the complete set of charisms – even though some think they do, poor things.”

Francis also warned the bishops against “conducting their own personal battles” and said they should instead listen to their “flock” and to priests. The remarks come after a former Vatican diplomat to the US, Carlo Maria Viganò, broke with pontifical protocol by issuing a public letter claiming Francis knew the former archbishop of Washington Theodore McCarrick “was a corrupt man” but covered it up.

McCarrick, 88, resigned after allegations that he sexually abused children and adult seminarians over the course of his decades-long career. McCarrick maintains his innocence.

In his letter, Viganò said he told the pontiff in June 2013 that there were numerous concerns and complaints about McCarrick, but that the pope did not respond and allowed McCarrick to continue in his prominent role as a public emissary for the church.

He wrote: “In this extremely dramatic moment for the universal church, he must acknowledge his mistakes and, in keeping with the proclaimed principle of zero tolerance, Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example to cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them.”

“We must tear down the conspiracy of silence with which bishops and priests have protected themselves at the expense of their faithful, a conspiracy of silence that in the eyes of the world risks making the church look like a sect, a conspiracy of silence not so dissimilar from the one that prevails in the mafia.”

While Francis did not directly mention the latest scandal in his address to the bishops, he did tell them to be men who are “… never harsh or confrontational but affable, patient, straightforward and open”.

He also warned the bishops against succumbing to apathy or mediocrity, saying; “Do not forget that the devil enters via your pockets.” The newly ordained bishops are attending a two-week seminar at the Vatican on how to lead their respective dioceses. They will also be addressed by the director of the Rome Centre for Child Protection, Hans Zollner.


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2 thoughts on “Pope Francis orders new bishops to ‘just say no to abuse’

  1. Who listens to the Pope when it comes to sexual exploitation, financial corruption and power games? Such orders have so far fallen on deaf ears.

  2. The Pope should also have advised them to initiate immediate criminal proceedings in cases of financial misappropriation or sexual offences

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