Pope says responses to abuse crisis cannot forget the influence of evil

Rome, Italy, Mar 31, 2019 / 03:58 pm (CNA).- Returning to Italy from Morocco Sunday night, Pope Francis said the problem of child sexual abuse, in all its forms, cannot be tackled without understanding the influence of evil.

“The global scourge [of sexual abuse of minors] is great, but to say that this is not understood without the spirit of evil,” he said March 31. “It is a concrete problem. We must solve it concretely, but say that it is the spirit of evil.”

Speaking aboard the papal plane from Rabat after a two-day visit, the pope said there is a risk of Catholics becoming Donatists and “forgetting the spiritual dimension.” Donatism is a heresy which holds that the validity of the sacraments depends on the perfection of the priests administering them.

To defeat the spirit of evil requires fighting against it, he said. “We too must struggle with the devil, as we must struggle with human things.”

In reference to forgetting the spiritual, Pope Francis said a reason the Vatican halted the United States’ bishops’ proposed measures for sex abuse reform, slated to be presented at their fall general assembly in November 2018, was because he held they lacked a consideration of the spiritual dimension.

“The proposals [of the U.S. bishops] were too much about organization, about methodologies; a bit without meaning to but it had neglected this second spiritual dimension, with the laity, with everyone,” he said.

The United States Conference of Bishops was going to consider two proposals: a new code of conduct for bishops and the creation of a lay-led body to investigate bishops accused of misconduct.

“I want to tell you, the Church isn’t a congregationalist church, it’s a Catholic Church where the bishop takes [the abuse issue] into hand as a shepherd, the pope has to take this in hand,” Francis said. “But how does he take it in hand? With disciplinary measures, with prayer, penance, the accusation of one’s self.”

Francis recalled that he had explained the importance of including the spiritual in the letter he wrote to U.S. bishops before their weeklong retreat in January.

The retreat, held at Mundelein Seminary, was proposed by the pope in October as an opportunity for the American bishops to reflect and pray after a year of abuse and cover up scandals rocked the Church in the U.S. and worldwide.

“I would be grateful if you were to study both things,” in the fight against sex abuse, he said: “the human part and also the part of the spiritual fight.”

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  1. From Bergoglio’s full text interview on the plane regarding Donatism:

    “And to solve this there are two publications that I recommend: one that is an article by Gianni Valente in Vatican Insider where he talks about the Donatists. The danger of the Church today of becoming Donatist by doing all [with] human provisions, that which must be done, but only these, forgetting the other dimensions: prayer, penance, the accusation of one’s self, which we are not used to doing. Both! Because to overcome the spirit of evil is not ‘washing one’s hands,’ saying ‘the devil does it,’ no. We too must struggle with the devil, as we must struggle with human things.”

    Please tell me how Bergoglio in any meaningful way defines, understands “Donatism”…or his previously wielded references to “Pelagian and semi-Pelagian?”

    Is it just that Bergoglio grabs whatever he can to take on his enemies? Are we forgetting the “spiritual part?” Is that another way of saying we can get too focused on the human/ legal aspect of fighting the sexual scandal? Are we also Pharisees?

    Laughable! In the news… It took how many years for Dolan in NY to finally suspend (March 19, 2019) Fr. Miqueli just recently though parishioners in filed a lawsuit (2016) accusing Miqueli of embezzling more than a $1 million dollars and being of being involved in homosexual prostitution and drug use. Check out Catholic NY March 28, 2019 for the noted suspension. Another priest was also recently suspended after an arrest for use/packaging of methamphetamines “along with a 27 year old male.”

    Whether it’s the Archdiocese of NY, Chile or France: not much “donatism” really. No fear the sacraments will be made invalid by unworthy ministers (especially in seminaries)..and not much fear really that there is such a thing as receiving the Eucharist “unworthily.”

    There’s “donationism” (to bankroll all the lawsuits) but not much “donatism.”

    There’s no denying the spiritual dimension, the role of the Devil…but there’s no denying the need for prompt legal action…not simply what gets interpreted as the “canonical” or some imagined “more spiritual” process.

  2. No, one mustn’t ignore the spiritual dimension; but while we’re waiting for the “prayer, penance, the accusation of one’s self” on the part of the abuser, possible future victims must be protected, and justice done on behalf of past victims.

    Meanwhile, “child sexual abuse” is not the only, or even the main, problem. Homosexual behavior is.

  3. En flight and at arrival in Rome according to the Pontiff’s somewhat cryptic allusions Am Hierarchy seeking to investigate McCarrick, purge homosexual enabling prelates had misplaced priorities. Apparently fundamentalists who refused to pray, be introspective, accuse themselves. Donatism, the heresy of invalidation of sinful clergy doesn’t fit the Am effort. The Am bishops never raised the question of sacramental validity. Two fundamental premises at play here were introduced in Amoris Laetitia and remain the deceptive solvents diminishing all Catholic doctrine. They are worship of individual conscience a take away by liberals from Vat II and Dignitatis Humanae. Authored by Avery Dulles SJ the progressive Jesuit never set limits in respect to conscientious rejection of the Deposit of Faith, which is always a responsible and fatal error, and the Church’s coercive authority on faith and morals. The other fundamental premise is merciful appeal to mitigating conditions. Mitigation is a reality fear, burden can impede freedom of will to some degree. Although it cannot absolve intrinsically evil acts like murder, killing the innocent, false witness, adultery. The error here is that conditions without universal evidence cannot absolve [allow the priest to validly absolve] manifest inherently evil acts. In respect to the latter conscience becomes the determinant although exceptions to the rule presumably exist [the first marriage of a D&R may have been invalid but lacking evidence]. Personally I cannot perceive how an exception to manifest sin can be determined without evidence. Cardinal Raymond Burke former Pontifical Signatura has consistently refuted the Pontiff’s proposal. And presuming there are such instances the Pontiff in Amoris and elsewhere by pronouncing his doctrine publicly makes it a universal premise [if presuming Amoris Laetitia or the Argentine exchange of letters in AAS are somehow binding though as held by Cardinal Gerhard Mueller they are not binding] obliging the priest to give benefit of the doubt based on the penitent’s conscience. The result has been as in Malta, Sicily, the Philippines and elsewhere dissolution of the commandment against adultery and by inference all other moral doctrine. Evil is not a mistaken priority. Evil is in the will.

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