Aboard the papal plane [AP]
Pope Francis says any bishop who moves a suspected pedophile priest from parish to parish should resign.
Francis spoke about the church’s handling of sex abuse cases while flying home on Wednesday from Mexico, where victims of that country’s most notorious pedophile, the Reverend Marcial Maciel, are still coping with the trauma of his abuse.
‘It’s a monstrosity,’ Francis said of clerical abuse. ‘Because a priest is consecrated to bring a child to God. And if he eats him in a diabolical sacrifice, it destroys him.’
The role of bishops in the abuse scandal made headlines again recently after a French priest told a Vatican course for new bishops that they don’t have to report suspected abuse to police. His comments drew a swift correction from Francis’ top adviser, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who said bishops have an ‘ethical and moral’ obligation to report suspected pedophiles to civil authorities.
‘A bishop who changes parish [for a priest] when he detects pederasty is reckless and the best thing he can do is present his resignation,’ Francis said. ‘Clear?’
Francis also reaffirmed the Vatican’s oversight of Maciel’s Legion of Christ, saying it is continuing to help the scandal-plagued religious order reform and praising his predecessor for bringing the truth of Maciel’s misdeeds to light.
Maciel founded the Legion in Mexico in the 1940s, and it became one of the wealthiest and fastest-growing orders in the world. It is, however, emblematic of the Mexican church that Francis so acutely criticised during his trip, with close ties to Mexico’s rich and powerful who by and large send their children to Legion-run schools.
The Vatican in 2010 took the order over after the Legion admitted, after decades of denial, that Maciel had sexually molested his seminarians and fathered at least three children.
Francis told reporters that the Vatican still plays a prominent role in running the order, even after it elected a new leadership 2014 and revised its founding constitutions.