The Vatican Friday defended the Catholic Church’s action on paedophile priests, saying popes Francis and Benedict XVI had “courageously” tackled the issue but admitting there was still much to be done in many countries.
Vatican spokesperson Federico Lombardi said “sensationalism” surrounding the Oscar-winning film “Spotlight” and hearings into an alleged cover-up of abuse by Cardinal George Pell in Rome had given the public the wrong impression.
The media furore surrounding both events “meant that most people, particularly those less well informed or with a short memory, think the Church has done nothing or very little to answer to these horrible tragedies”.
“An objective consideration shows it is not true,” he said in a statement, listing steps taken by the Church to meet with victims, draw up guidelines for bishops and update canonical procedures and laws.
Both Francis and his predecessor Benedict have shown a “courageous commitment… to tackling the crisis in several countries, such as the United States, Ireland, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands,” he said in a statement.
But while “cases of abuse have become very rare” in those countries and mostly date to previous decades, “in other countries, usually because of cultural situations which are very different and characterised by silence, there is still much to do”.
“There is resistance and there are difficulties, but the path to follow has become clearer,” he said.
Some abuse victims insist the Vatican still has not gone far enough to protect children even in the West — where intense media coverage of paedophile priests has led to greater scrutiny of church practices.
They also accuse it of ducking out of providing proper financial compensation in a bid to protect its assets.