ROME (CBS) – The next pope will have to address a sex abuse crisis that in parts of the world is only now coming to light. It’s one reason Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s name is now so often on the “short list.”
But as Lisa Hughes explains from Rome, a national victims’ support group says the Archbishop of Boston is the wrong choice.
David Clohessy was just a little boy when he says his parish priest abused him and his three siblings. Now, as director of the Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests or “SNAP”, he’s working to protect children from predators.
“Even now within the church, they’re exposed and they’re suspended after the fourth allegation or the fourteenth allegation not the first,” says Clohessy.
Clohessy says they are not hopeful that a new pope will help change things. In fact, he’s worried excitement about the new pope, the hope he’ll take a hard line against abusers, will make people complacent.
And while Cardinal Sean is often applauded as a reformer after the sexual abuse crisis in Boston, SNAP put him on its “dirty dozen” list of possible popes, accusing him of withholding the names of some abusive priests.
“Cardinal O’Malley is a very charming, charismatic, bright, humble man,” says Clohessy. “He’s done a superb job at gestures, symbols, words and apologies. But gestures, and words and symbols and apologies don’t protect children.”
What will protect kids, he says, are church officials who report abuse and discipline colleagues who try to cover it up.
Clohessy says, “They’ve got to have the moral courage to step in and say, no more.”
The Boston Archdiocese insists that is what it’s done since Cardinal Sean took over and that every effort is being made to keep kids safe.
There’s no question the abuse is a scar on the archdiocese. But a number of Boston-area Catholics WBZ has talked with in Rome believe the cardinal’s been a central part of the healing.