Sex abuse victims call on new pope to do better

Souvenirs, including one of the pope, on sale in Rome.

Souvenirs, including one of the pope, on sale in Rome.


As Pope Benedict XVI prepares to celebrate his last Wednesday public audience in front of 150,000 faithful in St Peter’s Square this morning, clerical sex abuse continues to cast a dark shadow over the conclave.

Speaking in Rome yesterday, David Clohessy, spokesman for the US-based clerical sex abuse victims group, SNAP, called on the new pope to do a lot better than his two predecessors.

“We would like the new pope to have a lot of courage and make the safety of kids his number one job. Benedict was perfectly positioned to make the kind of changes that were needed, but it is obviously very, very tough to change things if wrongdoers are virtually never disciplined,” he said.

“I mean there is not a single bishop on the planet today who drives a smaller car or does his own laundry or takes fewer vacations because of the clerical sex abuse crisis. This is a crisis that has had massive impact on the day to day life of the Church but not on that of the men who have caused this crisis. Until we see the pope defrocking bad bishops . . . then things are not going to change.”

SNAP argue that Benedict and John Paul II were “wrongdoers” because they failed to deal effectively with senior figures who mishandling clerical sex abusers. Mr Clohessy even suggested that the canonisation of John Paul II should be put on hold, singling out his handling of the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Mexican Fr Marcial Maciel.

The Vatican confirmed that Pope Benedict’s official post-resignation title will be “His Holiness Benedict XVI, Roman Pontiff Emeritus”. The pope will wear a white cassock with brown rather than red shoes.

Vatican spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi said cardinals would meet for the first time since the resignation for pre-conclave talks on March 4th.