Pope Francis met with Archbishop Gerhard Mueller on Friday to tell him that he wants sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church to be dealt with "decisively," according to reports by Euronews and other media outlets. Mueller is the head of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, a post that Pope Benedict XVI himself once held, and as such is in charge of investigating sex crimes within the church, among various other duties.
Victims' groups have criticized the pope's stance, saying that it is the same one previously expressed by recently retired Pope Benedict XVI. Pope Francis' remarks on Friday were the first he has made regarding the ongoing sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic church since being elevated to his position three weeks ago.
Here is some of the key information that emerged on Friday from Pope Francis' meeting with Archbishop Mueller and the reaction to his remarks.
* Pope Francis told Mueller that in addition to acting quickly and "decisively," that he should also "carry out 'due proceedings against the guilty,'" as quoted by CNN.
* Barbara Dorris, the victims outreach director for the U.S.-based group known as the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, was vocal in her criticism of Pope Francis' stance on this issue. Dorris told CNN and other media outlets on Friday that "once again, as has happened hundreds of times already, a top Catholic official says he's asking another top Catholic official to take action about pedophile priests and complicit bishops," before adding the phrase "big deal."
* Dorris went on to say that Pope Francis should be signaling for a change in the way this issue is dealt with from within the church, instead of prescribing the same course of action as his predecessors.
* BBC News noted that when he first was elected to the papacy, Pope Benedict XVI had promised to get rid of the "filth" that plagued the Catholic church in the form of pedophilia and complacency. Instead, he left office under heavy criticism from individuals and groups that charge that he himself was willingly complicit in helping to cover up such crimes and protect priests accused of pedophelia before becoming Pope.
* A statement by the Vatican that was released on Friday sought to assuage fears that Pope Francis would be lenient on such matters, saying that the new Pope had told Mueller that he must put a priority on "promoting, above all, measures to protect minors" as well as "help for those who have suffered such violence in the past," as quoted by BBC News.
* But the Vatican's statement and the meeting between Pope Francis and Archbishop Mueller are not enough, according to Dorris, who told the media on Friday that they marked "tiny symbolic gestures," as quoted by the Christian Science Monitor.
* Others were more positive about the pope's meeting with Mueller. Dr. Rebecca Rist, a historian of the Catholic church and the papacy at the University of Reading in the U.K., told the Christian Science Monitor on Friday that "Pope Francis is sending a very strong signal to the world that he is willing to tackle the issue head on."Vanessa Evans is a musician, traveler, and freelance writer with an interest in European studies and events.
- Religion & Beliefs
- Pope Benedict XVI