On Tuesday, Pope Francis announced that the rule of "pontifical secrecy" would no longer apply to cases of sexual abuse.
So, what the hell is "pontifical secrecy" anyway? (Yes, pun intended). All it really refers to, is the protection of internal documentation on church activities. But this is already the kind of thing that the church has been forced to violate more and more over the last several years as they reluctantly shared with law enforcement documents related to the church's sex abuse scandal as it has grown bigger and bigger.
Now, I have been covering the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church for a long time, nearly as long as I have been writing this blog. Let me tell you why Francis removing pontifical secrecy from cases of sexual abuse is a hollow gesture.
First of all, just look at the first post I wrote about this scandal. Pope Francis had just recently lessened the penalties on priests who had been raping children. He made that decision, according to a church official, to show an “emphasis on mercy.”
Because mercy on the rapists is way more important than the mercy we should be showing the victims.
In the same announcement made on Tuesday, Francis generously raised the cutoff age for which the Vatican considers pornographic images to be child pornography from 14 to 18. This is, apparently, in response to the boom in cases involving child pornography that are sweeping through the church recently.
We should not forget that this scandal has been going for longer than this blog has been around, and this is the best Francis could do. But, seriously, my real complaint is this:
Paperwork is not the problem.
I have already written about some clergymen who are so beholden to the the Seal of the Confessional, the idea that whatever is disclosed during the Sacrament of Penance (confession) is not to be disclosed with anyone, no matter what the price.
The Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, is one such lunatic I wrote about. He vehemently opposed violating the Seal of the Confessional to protect victims of sexual abuse. His reasoning? Well, he said, "Confession in the Catholic Church is a spiritual encounter with God through the priest. It is a fundamental part of the freedom of religion, and it is recognized in the law of Australia and many other countries. It must remain so here in Australia."
Right... all about freedom of religion. Never mind the freedom of children to not be raped by clergy.
Pope Francis has struggled to make any meaningful headway in dealing the sexual abuse crisis plaguing the Catholic Church. His best response now is, "OK, if we are caught, then we have to share our documents with local law enforcement."
That, to me, is not nearly enough.