Does Francis know he sounds like an abuser?

Shall I tell you the most charitable, least rash explanation I can muster for Pope Francis’ recent words and behavior? It’s that he’s surrounded himself with yes men who are shielding him from understanding the depth and breadth of institutional sex abuse and its cover-up in the Church.

He’s appointed, or left in office, no one but men who tell him that the world is chock full of false accusations, that the whole scandal thing is overblown, that it’s all in our past — oh, and that right now would be a good time to talk about litter in the ocean. The few who will tell him the truth, like Cardinal O’Malley, are so outnumbered that even their dire warnings can be dismissed as local problems.

That’s the charitable answer, and it’s not great. If he’s in a bubble that protects him from seeing the true state of the Church, it’s a comfortable bubble of his own making. The servant of the servants of God is not supposed to be in a bubble.

But the other explanation is worse. Here it is:

I have a number of friends who have escaped abusive marriages. They tell me that Pope Francis is sounding more and more like the men who abused them. He’s sounding like the men who hid that abuse from the world, who taught their victims to blame themselves, who used spiritual pressure to persuade them and their families that it would actually be wrong, sinful, to defend themselves.

Just listen to him. After responding to a question about Vigano’s very serious accusations, he said point blank, “I will not say a single word on this.” Several of the faithful speculated that he may have had this or that logistical reason for putting off responding to that specific question; fine. But for the rest of the week and more, he kept up an unmistakable theme of calling for silence, equating silence with holiness, and painting himself as a Christlike victim in his silence. Then he says it’s “ugly” to accuse others of sinning.Then he suggests that healing and reconciliation will only come if we take a hard look at our own flaws.

These statements are all true. They all reflect Christian thought. They would be reasonable at any other time in recent history. But coming right in the middle of our ongoing agony, they land as heavily as a fist on a bruise.

To the victims of the Church, and to those who love them, it sounds like he is saying, “Who do you think you are? I don’t have to explain myself to you. You’re the guilty one. You brought this on yourself. If you want to be loved, then know your place. I’m the victim, here, not you. If you know what’s good for you, keep your mouth shut.”

This is how abusers talk. They’re not content with power; they have to keep their victims doubting and blaming themselves constantly, so they don’t become a threat. Whether Francis knows it or not, this is how he sounds.

I know that we hear what gets reported, which isn’t necessarily everything he says. I know that the pope isn’t required to say everything we want him to say. I know that whatever is going on in our own diocese or our own country isn’t the whole of what goes on in the Church. I know that there are eternal truths that need to be told no matter what is going on in the current moment.

But even keeping all these things in mind, it beggars the imagination why the pope keeps talking the way he does. It’s clear he intends to keep on talking, despite his exhortations to be silent. This is what he chooses to say. The very best possible explanation is that his context is pure bubble, and he simply doesn’t realize that much of the Catholic world is transfixed with horror over the sins of the clergy. He simply isn’t aware that, with his words and with his silence, he’s turning his back on so many suffering priests and bishops, including my own, who tell their flock that they have not been abandoned — only to hear their spiritual father override their efforts with a huge, unmistakable message of “NOBODY CARES.”

Maybe he simply doesn’t realize that his cozy little aphorisms are coming off as a passive aggressive threat, as chilling as an abuser who smiles warmly at the world while secretly showing an open blade to the victim who stands faithfully at his side.

I do remember his gentleness, his compassion, his direct and sincere kindness in the past. I don’t believe that was false. You all know I’m not a reflexive Francis-hater. I don’t have any ideological reason to want to bring him down. I have defended him as long as I could, up until the Chile debacle.

And so I am working as hard as I can not to assume the worst, not to believe that this man who promised so much fresh air is really so intent on slamming doors shut before we find out even worse things hidden inside. But he is not making it easy. I am not saying he is an abuser. But he sounds like one.

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136 thoughts on “Does Francis know he sounds like an abuser?”

  1. And today, His Holiness Gaslighter, came out with yet another mindboggling statement suggesting that those who bring to light the disgusting moral crimes of his friends are doing the work of Satan.

    That’s right. Look it up. He really said that.

    At this point, I don’t know which is more sickening: our twisted Pope; his brigade of witting acolytes in the hierarchy and commentariat; or the legion of Useful Idiots whose main concern is to enable all of them.

    We’re in a situation now that at one time would have been considered unimaginable.

    That’s OK, I intend to fight these people until my last breath. Let the World and all the Powers of Satan, all good friends of this person ludicrously called “Holy” “Father,”, laugh at me the whole way.

    I don’t care. These people will not take possession of our Spiritual Mother, the Church, without a fight. If I’m the only one left on the barricades, with my family, so be it.

    Bring it, mf-ers. We’ll see who remains standing at the end.

    1. They already took posssion upon the election of that arch modernist, Roncalli. The rest is a logical consequence of this.

  2. Simcha, how can you conflate not answering the charges of Vigano and his Lifesite News cohorts, with not speaking to the abuse crisis? Own your words. If you are accusing the pope of being an abuser, you should come out and say it, not dance around it. Pope Francis has spoken to the problem many times and you have chosen to ignore that for some reason I can’t fathom. This is not right. I hope you overcome whatever issues are clearly affecting your journalistic integrity.

  3. “he kept up an unmistakable theme of calling for silence, equating silence with holiness, and painting himself as a Christlike victim in his silence.”

    His silence was not like a Christlike victim. Rather, it was like Pilate who release Barabbas and persecuted Jesus, the innocent victim.

  4. As a man, I had thus guy pegged as a fake the first few months of his papacy, The fact that he seemed exceedingly popular with women only reinforced my unease.

    1. Of course your implication here is that women are stupid since they like someone who was “a fake”. Thank God for the manly intelligence and wisdom of manly men like yourself.

  5. He’s 81. He’s been steeped in this dysfunctional cover up cult like reality for most of his life. I don’t think he can see his way out. He must have been rationalizing this evil for decades now. I think many of the bishops have, worldwide. I think it is up to us to wake the hierarchy up. They can’t see clearly how they have been led astray. But we can. We are devastated and horrified. It’s our move now. Sincere prayer and insistence on the truth are necessary from the laity and the priests and bishops who have the vision to understand just what is at stake and how much needs to change. I was a Pope Francis fan. I still am in many ways. But his response to the McCarrick thing has been bizarre. And he did that weird about face in Chile. There is reason to be concerned here. As for the environment and immigration – his role to encourage us to do the right thing there. But he isn’t in charge of how countries handle pollution and immigration. He is, however, in charge of the Church! So as important as those issues are (And I am an environmentalist and pro-immigrant) his first duty lies with shepherding his own flock through this sex abuse crisis.

  6. It’s disgraceful how some members of the Catholic Church are attacking the vicar of Christ in order to divide the church who he is trying to unite.

    1. Father Rick, I appreciate and value your ordination. I have a question. HOW in the world is the Pope trying to unite us? Is it by not answering the Dubia? Is it by not clarifying ANY confusing and obfuscating wording in his encyclicals? Is it by vaguely talking about not judging? Is it by shaming all of us for the failures of the clergy to lead by example and preaching on the morality God provides us for our own good? Is it by surrounding himself with men who question doctrine and who openly want to change unchangeable doctrine? I have not seen the unity of which you speak. I pray for the Holy Father

    2. Please.

      Right, he unites us by venomous attacks on “Pharisees” and “rigid” Catholics whose offense, in his eyes, is to actually take the doctrines and teaching of the Church seriously.

      More recently, he unites us by (laughably) likening himself to Jesus while describing those Catholics who dare question him about his conduct regarding McCarrick as dogs.

      Yeah, His Holiness is a great uniter. Really brings people together.

      That aside, outstanding article by Simcha. Excellent insights.

    3. No Father Rick,

      What is DISGRACEFUL is that priests have abused the souls in their care, betraying their flocks, their sacred duty, the trust placed in them, and their church. What’s MORE disgraceful is that those in charge of overseeing these men, those placed in positions of the highest trust regarding the care of souls, that those charged by Christ to “feed my sheep” would not only fail to protect the faithful in their charge, but continue protecting the wolves.

      And Francis is at this time giving no indication of trying to unite the Church. He gives every impression of simply trying to protect his position, his prestige, and those in his tight cabal at the top of the hierarchy, who have been complicit in one of the grossest scandals in our church’s history.

      Today we heard some preaching from our Bishop Weurl’s “toolkit” on healing, which is his answer to his part in this scandal. We were told that we have a need to cleanse the infection, lance the boil, and to “heal.”

      Yes, indeed. And the first thing necessary in the path to healing is to clearly identify the malady, and then cleanse it. In this instance, the malady can be identified as abusive priests and anyone in the hierarchy who has enabled them; e.g. McCarrick, Wuerl, and Francis.

      No healing can begin until the infection is cleansed.

    4. All the Holy Father needs to do is deny the charges? How hard is that?

      Giving no answer is the worst answer he could give. His children need leadership. They are begging for leadership, and all Pope Francis seems to care about is ocean pollution and immigration. By side-stepping the issue, the Holy Father is dividing the Church, just as his ignoring the dubia is dividing the Church. He has been dividing the Church for 5 years now.

      I’m willing to give the Holy Father the benefit of the doubt with respect to Vigano’s charges, but what innocent man gives an equivocal non-answer to serious charges against him? We need clarity and simplicity and truth from the Holy Father. We are not getting it.

    5. There’s this really horrible noise that coyotes make when they surround their victim. It sounds especially eerie in the middle of the night. This comment thread reminds me of that strange sound the coyotes make when they are excited.

      “And he walked through the angry mob.”

      God bless the vicar of Christ. He knows the truth about the crowd. He knows about their violence and immolation of innocence. In the name of God, he has given them absolution, saying “go in peace”, as he blesses them over, and over and over again. He is at peace, and is silent because his conscience is clean. This infuriates them.

      I don’t think the Pope can cause a schism. Many of these people have had schism in their hearts for years and years now. They can’t bear to be confronted. Pope Francis has been unbending with their pride and what they worship at their altars. He laughs at their Credentials. They hate that he is patient with the weak and the wounded–as these weak and wounded have been their scapegoats of choice for years. In their diabolical fury, they’d tear him limb from limb if they could. But they can’t.

      1. “…he is patient with the weak and the wounded.”

        Dear God, you can’t make this stuff up. Uh, the weak and the wounded like the victims of McCarrick’s abuse — now told by Francis to shut up. Because in his sick imagination, he’s Jesus, and those who question him are dogs.

        Honestly, Anna Lisa, you’re like the tragically confused family member who sides with the abusive father so as to preserve a sort of warped “normalcy” and not upset the twisted applecart.

        I say “confused” because that’s the most charitable explanation for your frankly sick reasoning.

        Newsflash: it ain’t gonna get better. None of it. Until there is a reckoning. At the end of the day, you can side with the abusers. Or you can side with those who seek justice and healing for the Church.

        Let me break this to you gently: right now, you’re on the wrong side…

        1. Gerard, you can insult me until the cows and the apple carts come home. I have seen too much in my life to believe people like you *ever* again.

          Sometimes when the priest grants absolution, and says “go in peace” the penitent is too agitated to believe. They are disgusted by their own sins because they believe that they are above them. Peace will never, ever be theirs until they humble themselves to the reality that *their* sins have crucified the Lord God.

          My suggestion to you is the one that I remind myself of every day:

          Keep your eyes on your own paper.

          1. “People like me” evidently being the dogs of Francis’s sick imagination who dare question him, the Fake Jesus we’re supposed to bow down before.

            No thanks.

            As a Catholic who’s tried to live and raise my family — six children, one a Poor Clare, and now 19 grandkids — in accordance with the teaching of the Church, I revere the office of the papacy. But I do not worship the man holding that office. I worship only one Man: the real Jesus — not Francis’s obscene, would-be imitation.

            Therefore, if the Pope dishonors his office, betrays his (and my) Master, showing himself unworthy of leadership, well, I’m not going to obey his command for silence. On the contrary, I’m going to speak up. Loudly. Whether he likes it or not.

            Since you’ve given me a suggestion, I’ll offer one to you:

            Open your eyes and take a hard look at what’s right in front of them.

          2. Seriously anna lisa, you are on the wrong side of this. Prayers. Hope that the victim’s courage to come forward results in real change for the good in the church. Covering for abuse and placing your head in the sand is the kind of action that created this crisis.

          3. Seriously anna lisa, you are on the wrong side of this. Prayers. Hope that the victim’s courage to come forward results in real change for the good in the church. Covering for abuse and placing your head in the sand is the kind of action that created this crisis.

      2. This is nonsense. I was 100% committed to liking Pope Francis, but he makes it difficult by not standing up and saying the hard things that need to be said. This is not about wanting to destroy Pope Francis. This is about asking him to stand up and lead boldly. To be a strong father that will protect us.

      3. I have no desire to tear him limb from limb. I don’t hate him. I have no diabolical fury. I pray for him, and for the last few years have TRIED to understand his many confusing statements and actions in the best possible light, a task that’s getting progressively harder.
        It does bother me that Pope Francis (and you, apparently) assume that these baseless accusations MUST be the only possible reason for questioning what he says–or doesn’t say. (Isn’t that kind of “judgmental”?)
        No, I just want the truth.

    6. I’m with you father. How long ago were we hearing that he spoke too much? Next he will turn and heal a man with a withered hand. This pope speaks all the time. His words are very consistent and provide ample foundation for interpreting him in an entirely Catholic way. He is wise in very poignant ways especially when he speaks to youth. No one is reading the words he wants to say but they get all up in arms when he doesn’t say something on their cue. Very frustrating…

    7. This was not an attack. And you need have no fear about the Pope’s plans to unite the Church being undone by articles like this one. He is doing an excellent job of sowing division in the Church himself, by his very own actions. Ms Fisher’s piece here was an attempt to persuade him to *stop* doing so.

  7. To argue that the Pope is seeking to hide the sex abuse scandal from the world is just factually wrong. He has addressed it in public and in writing, openly and with heart. His response to this and to the rapidly unraveling accusations of Vigano has been unfairly and misleadingly conflated here. And then his silence on this latest effort to undermine his papacy is vilely interpreted as conveying the message that nobody cares. This is just so terribly wrong! It is deeply wrong to misrepresent in this way a loving, generous, open and inclusive Pope. Not perfect, for sure, but who has demonstrated time and again that his heart is in the right place. And who, when he gets it wrong, acknowledges that too. This Pope has made it quite clear on numerous occasions what he thinks of abusers. I can’t think how he could have been clearer. Nor is the opportunity missed – sensing a pattern here – to sneer at his care for this wonderful world entrusted to us.
    To liken Pope Francis to an abuser? There are no grounds for this and it is breathtakingly wrong to suggest that there are and to mislead people in this way.

    1. Except that he’s done absolutely nothing about the McCarrick stuff. What about that?? Hundreds of priests/seminarians are having homosexual sex…that’s ok???

  8. Left and Right on the Church are united here. Biker gangs now have the Moral High Ground over Francis because while they cover Child Abusers across the world too, it’s unusually under six feet of dirt……and it’s usually across the world because each continent covers a particular part of an abuser. But in all Seriousness this has to stop. If you are hardline Conservative go to SSPX, If a liberal the old Catholics or else Join one of the Eastern rites in communion with the Church. There are places for us all to go while still being faithful Catholics without enabling all of this. at the very least don’t put money in the collection plate, put in a letter of protest.

    1. I think it unlikely that these other places are free of corruption. I think it is rather more likely that their particular corruption has not come to light. Anyone who thinks they can flee sin by going to another bunch of sinners is likely to experience a rude awakening.

    2. True. Personally defund the church until this is dealt with. Start locally. The parishes will put pressure on the Bishops and the Bishops on Rome.

  9. Thanks for this analysis, Fisher. It’s good to see people right, left, and center raise awareness about this.

    It’s also interesting that defenders and apologists on the right and left are sounding like each other – Catholic League and Ave Maria using the same deflections and denialist rhetoric as NCR, Father Martin, or Faggioli.

  10. What comes to me in the most overwhelming of ways, (and my husband also–he doesn’t follow this as closely as I have) –is the profound lack of respect to be found here. The stunning level of comfort with detraction and character assassination. is. simply. overwhelming.

    Francis has made *all* of us uncomfortable, but some aren’t willing to stop brooding over their own past hurt feelings. Americans are such navel gazers that a Pope (Leo?) once had to scold us in a very pointed way for it. We are entitled, triumphalist and hold a grudge. We transfer, scapegoat and excoriate with the slightest provocation.

    I am reminded of all of the times the crowd turned bloodthirsty on Jesus. He too made them feel uncomfortable. He challenged their tiny little self congratulatory worlds.

    I once heard an excellent sermon by a priest who insisted that when Jesus fell silent, and began to write in the sand before the adulterous woman, he was making a detailed list of the sins of the blood thirsty people holding their raised stones.

    1. Yeah, who hasn’t protected Child Molesting Priests or failed to protect kids from Rapists……um ME!!!! seriously, if we are to look at our own reflections first, i’d appreciate if he picks a sin small enough so that even violent criminal gangs do not have the moral high ground. perhaps he should solve the issue and take on a mistress….that would literally be an improvement and then i’ll consider looking at myself first. but OK, looked at myself, this is beyond anything else an average person would even be capable of!!!

    2. I don’t thirst for blood. I thirst for truth. I don’t want it to be tainted by blood. You are much more likely to lead to the bloody coup you do not want by pretending that the prelates who are refusing to address this latest scandal have nothing to answer for. They may well not be responsible for any wrongdoing, either by negligence or by commission, but to refuse to address legitimate questions from legitimate interrogators is wrong. When Jesus refused to answer the questions asked of Him, it was because He owed them no particular loyalty. Is Pope Francis so superior to the laity he supposedly holds in his trust that he is not required to answer their questions under any conditions at all? Does the head shepherd never have to answer to the sheep, even if it turns out that some of his junior shepherds have allowed the sheep to get eaten by wolves?

      I do not want to force Pope Francis into retirement. All I want is to see him address the questions that have been asked of him.

    3. You are right anna lisa. The profound lack of respect and level of detraction and character assassination that the Church has shown to its victims is simply overwhelming! Our Pope, when not acting in accord with the teachings of the Church and siding with the abusers, is not to be likened to Jesus. Jesus is found in the poor, the defenseless, the victims…

    4. Your argument is just based on assuming the worst of everyone else’s motives. This isn’t an argument. You are the one trying to assassinate our characters. We are calling attention to a problem in the church that must be fixed. We need strong leadership that will not stay silent in the face of evil. I want Pope Francis to succeed. I want him to stand up and fight for us and for Jesus.

  11. Catholic Conservatives must also face the fact that John Paul II accepted bribes to protect brutal pedophile Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionaries of Christ. Elevating a child pimp to sainthood is unforgivable, but so is their embrace of psychopathic totatlitarian Vladimir Putin as a savior of Christendom.

    1. Benedict is a self-loathing closet queen who was vulnerable because he was living with his boyfriend, Georg Ganswein. Benedict wrote that gays bring violence on themselves by participating in the political process to protect their rights. That loathsome bastard should go to meet his father in Hell.

      Maciel is a case study in how Catholic culture manufactures deviance. He was raised in a Catholic family in Mexico. His father thought Maciel was insufficiently masculine so he sent Maciel to work with mule drivers who raped him brutally at a very young age. The Catholic detestation of gender atypicality created the monster Maciel. BTW although Maciel raped young boys, he also had two mistresses.

    2. I’ll definately agree there. Vladimir Putin I like (seriously good like finding any moral politician) and JP2 even some Traditional Catholics say that he shouldn’t be a Saint. Time to end the insanity

      1. It’s especially ‘traditional Catholics’ who think that John Paul II should not have been canonized.

        Such comments suggest that the commentators have no idea what a ‘traditional Catholic’ is. (And for the record, I’m not a traditional Catholic.)

  12. As a teaching order, the Jesuits have abused many of the boys entrusted to their care. They routinely transfer abusive priests from one school to another and, probably, one country to another. I was educated in a Jesuit high school, and the experience taught me to never trust a priest. To put it bluntly, the Jesuits are happy to f*ck gay students, but Jesuits never defend gay students from bullying. The bullying of gay students is sexual in nature and goes as far as intimidation of gay students to fellate “straight” students. Jesuit high schools are factories of mental illness and deviance.

  13. As an individual who left an abusive marriage, let me answer that YES Pope Francis does sound a bit much like my ex. Not just currently, where it is very prevalent, but also prior in the way that he has dealt with and “spoken” about abuse as well as areas that are not related to abuse.

    Abusers don’t think that what they are doing is wrong and always go out of their way to excuse or shift the blame. They can appear very sympathetic to people who do not know what is going on. They put their victims in a position where they are likely not to be believed by outsiders and are made to feel dependent upon the abuser.

    People who are not abusers can have a tendency to believe the abuser over the victim — a lot of the focus in training is a focus on responders to believe the victim and not brush things off — to be attentive to warning signs and to be attentive to their very timid initial cries for help.

    One of the things with Pope Francis is that he does surround himself with, promoting and protecting, abusers. Very very specifically Mr. McCarrick. There is more than just that, but we can focus on that linkage because there is a mountain of evidence and the fact that Benedict XVI canonically acted, as much as he could, to restrict him from ministry. Thus a paper trail and judicial documents exist.

    Thus, the question “Pope Francis, why did you promote, protect, and inflict this abuser upon your family?” Pope Francis’ answers thus far have been the classic answers of an abuser.

    The same answers that my ex-gave when confronted.

  14. Thank you for putting words on something that I’ve been feeling the past couple of weeks. The Holy Father’s reactions to Viganò’s accusations have puzzled, confused and even shocked me. People who have tried to rationalise them as exemplary have made me feel physically sick – and I’m not the kind of person who feels that way easily at all.

    Let’s keep praying for the Church, which is going through a very serious trial. On the other side of the passion is the resurrection.

  15. A thoughtful, well-written piece, Simcha. People are free to disagree with your conclusions, but a fair reader will grant that your point is worth considering, and is clearly articulated.

  16. indict the criminals.

    about the rest, believe none of what you hear and read and half of what you see.

    trust almighty God. perhaps a time of penance and cleansing is what He desires for His Holy Church.

  17. “The few who will tell him the truth, like Cardinal O’Malley…”

    Hahahahahahaahaha!!!! Cardinal O’Malley, the pederast enabler extraordinaire! That man shouldn’t be teaching Sunday school in the archdiocese of Boston, nevermind running the entire corrupt show.

      1. Benedict is a self-loathing closet queen who was vulnerable because he was living with his boyfriend, Georg Ganswein. Benedict wrote that gays bring violence on themselves by participating in the political process to protect their rights. That loathsome bastard should go to meet his father in Hell.

  18. This is a new high for you as far as I’m concerned (and as sad as I am to admit it, I’ve come to the same conclusion). Subscribing.

  19. In reading about the Barros scandal (for that is what it is) in Chile, where the Pope ignored the words of his own people on the ground, I think the “bubble” includes some stubbornness on the Pope’s part. From what I can gather, it seems that he is operating in terms of political factions fighting with each other and everything else (like the abuse accusations) seen as part of the combat. This is another kind of bubble, filled with confirmation biases. I still am shocked at what it appears it took for the Pope to listen (i.e., Cardinal O’Malley confronting him) after it was clear he was just wrong. I do pray for him as his world seems horrendous.

    1. Or maybe your tiny little suburban/urban bubble is tiny considering what he has seen and heard and endured. Evil never sleeps. It is my opinion that Pope Francis has looked evil dead on and took it on. He’s been doing it for a while while we were on autopilot.

      Why else are we seeing the sleeping “orthodox” suddenly reaching for their guns.

      1. What’s more evil than child rape?

        And, for the Church, what’s worse than raping seminarians? This is probably half of what killed vocations.

      2. I suggest looking up the sad story of Fr. Julio Cesar Grassi, for an example of putting politics above abused children. Pope Francis did indeed look at evil dead on- and then turned his head and let an abusing priest start an apostolate working directly with children.

  20. I wonder how many of your detractors in the comments here actually read your article at all, rather than simply making pre-judgments based on your title. Given the content of some, I think that’s the most charitable I can be to them (no names, they know who they are), and so I hope that’s all it is.

    Don’t listen to them, and don’t let them get you down. I have read your article in full and I am pleasantly surprised at how fair it is. In this day and age, especially when people either will not or cannot divorce themselves emotionally from matters they feel strongly about (even if they are absolutely right to be upset because they are themselves the victims of real injustice), it’s all too easy to fall into the Devil’s trap of believing a false dichotomy: either 1) Pope Francis is the pope and therefore anyone who speaks against him in any capacity is evil; or 2) Pope Francis’s mistakes and real sins mean he doesn’t deserve any charity at all, and being charitable means condoning these. Neither position is Christlike, and it’s easy to be fooled into thinking otherwise.

    Brava for you, and don’t let your detractors get you down. Jesus was crucified, after all, as were many of the early Christians. “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.” (Matthew 5:11)

    And to readers, please actually read the article before commenting, especially to criticize. She’s being charitable, you can be charitable to her. Uninformed, uncharitable comments are just braying and no one needs to hear that. And thank God for those commenters who have been supportive.

    1. In trying to deal with my anger, I have done a lot of reading and listening the past few weeks. I agree with your take 100%. My priest just talks about the need for “unity” and my bishop refers to the crises as unfortunate and that we are all seeing more “humanity” of our priests and bishops. Ugh! And then this from the top? It will take a lot of prayer and challenging of our pope, bishops,and priests to refer to depraved, abusive behavior as it really is-depraved and abusive.

  21. So sorry you are getting abuse from folks who are so wrapped up in their own wishes for what he might do that they are afraid to look outside their own “bubble” and consider contrary evidence. Brava to your for looking outside and considering alternatives. I’m usually good at reading people and I have considered him a phony from the moment he stepped out on the balcony the night he was elected.

  22. I have to agree. I can’t imagine a more insensitive thing, to the ears of a victim, than “truth is silent.” His silence is not dignified or noble, and he’s not a victim. He is coming across as manipulative and cold. Lord, save Your Church.

      1. Yes, in fact I have:

        Like you, I used to consider this website to be just calumny. But then the Bankruptcy of the Archdiocese of Portland happened, and I was forced to admit that there was actually something to the rumors that I had heard going back to the mid 1980s.

        Pope Francis directly shielded and defended this man, who had used an apostolate for poor children to find victims.

        I have to wonder now- how many charitable apostolates worldwide are actually fronts for abuse of this type? The poor are so powerless in comparison.

  23. ***But even keeping all these things in mind, it beggars the imagination why the pope keeps talking the way he does. It’s clear he intends to keep on talking, despite his exhortations to be silent. This is what he chooses to say. ***

    This, I think, is key. He compares himself to Jesus in his silence, but he’s not actually silent. Jesus didn’t loudly pat himself on the back for being silent, he was actually silent. And Jesus was silent because he knew he was going to be punished for things he hadn’t done, and he was planning to accept that punishment. Francis, meanwhile, is using a phony “silence” as a means of evading accountability for things he likely did.

  24. Yeah, Simcha, what Steve Fowler said.

    If you haven’t heard Pope Francis speaking uncharitably and weirdly, you haven’t been listening – perhaps because you have brushed off critiques as coming from “Francis-haters.”

    In all charity, take a look at the website Steve offers and read The Dictator Pope. I just recently read it and was surprised at how balanced it is (despite the title) – much of the sourcing comes from people like Austin Ivereigh (a Francis fan). It’s *all out there.* He’s a very odd guy who has playing people for a long time, it seems.

    1. I am trying to clarify for myelf. Does the author, in stating PF sounds like an abuser, mean he sounds like a homosexual who is trying to game his way out of all of the mess he is in? Help me understand.

  25. Wow. A lot of people flipping out on this one. I don’t see Simcha accusing Francis of anything specifically, but rather, expressing the feelings that a lot of people share about how the situation is being handled.

    His behavior has been rather odd lately. I don’t find this article to be much of a stretch.

  26. Simcha, I knew you were going to get attacked for this article, and therefore I felt the need to support you in your painfully honest assessment. Abusers tell their victims to “remain silent” and gas light them into thinking that “it’s all their fault”. You are correct: whether or not this is the Pope’s intention, his constant jabbing and veiled commentary is bordering on holding people spiritually and emotionally hostage: to the point that we question our own faith and sanity.

    You’re spot on, and it took a lot of courage on your part to break ranks and identify a problem.

    For what it’s worth: you earned my respect today with your assessment here.

  27. Oh boy, this article really is a vile rush to judgement. Worried about schisms? This kind of ill-considered, ill-informed venting gets you off to a good start.

    1. How many more decades should you wait for judgement? Pope Francis had this behavioral pattern as early as 1991 from my research.

  28. I can’t believe that you would write like this.

    He was the first Pope to stand up and talk about *real* marriage, forcing us to ponder whether or not a marriage is truly valid, regardless of the nice Church wedding. He’s the only Pope I’ve ever heard of who defended a person’s rights to walk away from an abusive marriage, AND receive Jesus while they sort through the mess/ get their new paperwork in order. Some people are so wounded it takes *decades* to face the abuse of their past. The Cdl. Burkes of the world were building impediments, and Francis was clearing paths.

    He “talks like an abuser”?
    What? *Disgusting* to make that allegation, and quite a leap.

    It’s sad to say it, but the world IS full of sexual sin–he should know as he’s sat in the black box where people come to dump it all on him. Most people get away with their sexual crimes.

    I’m glad McCarrick is being publicly shamed for his behavior. I’m glad he lost his little hat, but he makes some of the sins I’ve heard about up close look like a dragon infestation as opposed to an old cockroach one.

    Fact:Nobody but the man he abused as a child knew McCarrick was a pedophile until WEEKS ago, not YEARS ago.

    I have no doubt that as the old files get emptied out in various areas, we will all get our fill (again) of how perverts did their perverting over the last 70 years. I for one will *not* be poring over it. If the Pennsylvania report is comparable, what we will be looking at is the sins of three generations, in hundreds and hundreds of parishes, (700 parishes in PA).

    Fact: The Church embraces modern psychology now. “You must live like angels” won’t cut it anymore. Pedophiles can’t pray it away. Future aspirants to the priesthood will undergo rigorous interviews, and will be examined for their past lives, inclinations, and soundness of mental health.

    Fact: In the Virtus training we have been instructed to go FIRST to civil authorities without checking in with parents or pastor if sexual abuse is even *remotely* suggested. Parents are instructed to use words like Penis, Vagina, Vulva, and anus with their young children. Long lace mantillas and nice pleated pants won’t cut it for covering up the fact that we have private parts that must not be touched by _____and_____and________. Let us speak frankly about sex to our children. No more dirty little secrets with storks and whatnot. Seminarians? Good God, you’re a big boy now. If you have to take a course on this you probably shouldn’t be in seminary.

    Fact: 20 years ago, before the sexual abuse crisis landed in the spotlight, a priest informed me that there were strict orders in place that precluded my young sons from riding with him on the way to a baptism. The Church has been working behind the scenes for concrete change.

    Fact: A fair amount of priests have been falsely accused, decades later. Innocent until proven guilty, or reasonable doubt is established.

    Fact: The sexual abuse crisis is over. It will never have the oxygen or the dark room to fester and flourish again, but sexual sin will never cease until the last day, so TALK TO YOUR CHILDREN. There are predators everywhere.

    And when your children don’t listen to you? Love them, and hold them while they weep.

    1. I was sexually assaulted by my spiritual director in the confessional when I was in college. The guy spent a year grooming me before it happened.

      My mom was sexually abused growing up, so she was better than most about teaching us boundaries. And when the time came, I was able to report it to the diocese where it happened with her support.

      You can lessen the chances of abuse happening, but you can’t always prevent it. Even if your kid listens to you and does their best to do everything right.

      Just felt like that needed to be said.

      1. I’m so sorry. I know that sounds trite. You have a good Mom that tried. Nothing in this life makes us bulletproof. That is the agony of the mother.

        I think that it’s disgusting to conflate a man that has done nothing wrong with sexual abuse.

    2. “Fact: The sexual abuse crisis is over.”

      That right there tells every reader how much credit to give the rest of your “facts.”

      1. This. We said (hoped) it was over back in 2002, when the Boston Globe broke the scandal in the local archdiocese and when an assistant pastor at my former parish in the Archdiocese of Detroit was defrocked for statutory rape with a teenage boy because that was around the same time that Virtus and other protective measures were implemented. It wasn’t over. Far from it. Six US states have opened new investigations in the past week. We are only just beginning to realize how deep the rot goes, and how far up the hierarchy. Simcha’s article is right on the money. Anyone who says that this is over has their head in the sand.

        1. That’s what people are trying to do — well, take it up with His Vicar, at least. However, he seems either criminally complicit, blissfully complacent or actually unaware. I don’t know which, but none of those options is good.

      2. I think what Anna Lisa meant was that these are old cases of abuse. Bringing them to light is new, but it is inaccurate to say the Church has a current sex abuse crisis. The numbers do not show that. If I discovered my husband slept around and left a string of broken women and illegitimate children before we married, that would be truly awful. Yet, if he’s reformed and been a faithful husband since marriage, that does count for something. The discovery might bring on a crisis in our marriage, but we would weather it because of who he is now. The sex abuse/cover-up discovery has brought on a crisis. It would be unjust to assume that every priest and bishop is currently living a double life and should be treated as a criminal.

        I truly believe the complicit bishops and abusers are responsible for their actions and should be punished in some way for the good of the Church and their own good. I also truly believe this is part of a demonic plan (of which stupid humans are all too willing to participate in). The Church cannot survive without the Eucharist and the Eucharist cannot be made without her priests. The devil is striking at the very heart of the Church. Marriage and family? Done. Let’s move on to why anyone would stay in the Church at all. In the 18th century, Voltaire boasted, “Once we have destroyed the Jesuits, we shall have the game in our hands.” Voltaire was over-confident, but much damage was caused to the Church and many souls were lost by the suppression of the Jesuits. Pray for our Church and our Holy Father.

        I don’t know what good is does to accuse Pope Francis of “sounding like an abuser.” Does Simcha think he is going to see her post, smack himself on the head and say, “Caramba! I see the light!” And we’re all supposed to say, “Yeah, Simcha. Stick it to him!” What was the point of this post? There can be legitimate disagreement about what an abuser “sounds like.” The experience of abuse is not universal. If the signs were apparent and consistent, abuse would not go undetected. Darkness mimics Light, but sometimes Light is Light.

        1. Beautifully said Kate. I have always admired Simcha’s posts and I am grateful for her advocacy for victims. But I think that you and Annalisa have made some excellent points and have pinpointed conflicts that I’ve been having with this issue and have been unable to articulate.

    3. Your response belittles the victims. It also answers a lot of claims that weren’t made here. But as for the one that up until a few weeks ago, nobody knew that McCarrick had sexually abused a child, that is false. By the victim’s own testimony, he told his father, who refused to believe him. But the father had been told; he knew but refused to accept it.

      As someone else here said, if you can’t get one fact right, then the rest of them become reasons for skepticism.

      1. Anna Lisa, obviously didn’t mean nobody knew in the strict sense. There’s a big difference between the father knowing and not doing anything about it and the authorities knowing and not doing anything about it. I can say of a murder that “nobody knew who did it” because there is an investigation and the police haven’t caught their man yet. But obviously, someone knows. The point is whether someone is going to talk and whether it can be proved with evidence.

        I think we can all agree to dump on the dad at this point. Maybe his son should bring criminal charges against him. It sounds like he was complicit in the abuse since he kept providing opportunities for McCarrick to be with his son. Where’s the line between stupid and enabler drawn?

    4. Thank you Annalisa for bringing some much-needed perspective (I don’t mean just to Simcha’s post, but to the situation in general). The recent reports have repulsed me, but it is good to remember that we are on the road to recovery.

    5. “Fact: The sexual abuse crisis is over.”

      It’s disturbing to think about, given how terribly the US Bishops have dealt with the sexual abuse crisis, but *I* think it’s fair to say that no other national conference of bishops have dealt with the situation nearly as well as they have. American bishops are rather famous for being better than most of the other bishops in the world at pushing organized policies through the national conference, and the Dallas Charter is an example of that.

      I will agree with you that the Dallas Charter has made things a safer in the Church *in the US* in the past 15 years. Most of the rest of the world (I think excluding the UK?), though, is still at pre-2002 levels of dysfunction.

      Maybe we’re “over the hump” of the sexual abuse crisis in the US, but I don’t believe that is true at all for most of the rest of the world.

    6. I’ve said several times in the past few weeks that those who defend Francis don’t give a sh** about seminarians. You’ve proved my point in spades.

    7. Pope Francis does talk like an abuser. That does not mean he actually *is* one, but that he uses the exculpatory language that they use, to try to dodge unpleasant associations and possibilities.

      Anna Lisa, you have demonstrated what I have always feared to be the truth about some of the Pope’s most staunch defenders, which is that when someone they love and admire for various good deeds stands accused of being perhaps blind when it comes to handling sexual abuse allegations, you rise up in fury rather than consider whether the accusations might have merit.

      I have faced this horrific possibility with regard to some of my own heroes – John Paul II (whom I met, as a youngster), and Benedict XVI, to a lesser degree – with great grief and distress, but ultimately with acceptance of their negligence, wilful (that word again) blindness, and tendency to hide from the truth. It is time for Pope Francis’s supporters to do the same. Please do, or you will help to split the Church. (And once again, for the record, I am not a ‘traddie’.)

    8. This is unfounded. I walked, no, ran away from a horribly abusive marriage, and was in full communion with the church while I discerned and eventually obtained an annulment. Are you talking about those who remarry without an annulment? They are unable to receive the sacrament twice, so must wait until it is restored to them.

      Get your sacramental facts straight.

    9. Fact: You seem to believe that Francis is something he’s not. He is not the first to realize that the “white wedding” doesn’t make a marriage.

      Fact: Francis jargon may hit your hot button but psychology was still a factor in the human equation during the time of Christ. He spoke clearly about adultery. And He was/is fuly aware of the human condition.

      The rest of your post is one-way bias, fixed squarely on an underlying hero worship and emotional instability. The foundation of a great abuse. Using anatomically correct terms is no cureall for preparing children to face down adults who want to manipulate them. Where have you been?

      And while you awe at your sliver of life that has you gobbling up new policy directives or the fantasy that advocate merely holding children while they weep, adults will cut through the fog. ADULTS need to advocate for children. ADULTS need to advocate for vulnerable adults. That is Christlike. So is telling the truth. (No more dirty secrets.)

      So paint this however you’d like, but part of acknowledging that sexual sin is real is to name it, attack it, and call it out. Those with a proclivity to prey upon others SHOULD NOT BE RELIGIOUS. Those with a penchant for covering up dangerous predatory behavior should not be in positions of authority either. Why? Because it’s a temptation to engage in power over and then spiritual blackmail/subterfuge both with the perp and the victim.

      “No more dirty little secrets,” for sure.

      Francis needs to hear that he talks like an abuser. Cowing and shaming victims is the height of verbal abuse.

      “Good God, you’re a big boy now. If you have to take a course on this.” That is not abusing other people and using sex as a weapon. “You probably shouldn’t be in seminary.”

      That’s why McCarrick being at liberty to stay at seminaries is suspect, Anna Lisa. That’s why Francis and all who allowed such on their watch shouldn’t be in positions of authority. Why? Because they misuse that authority. THEY CANNOT BE TRUSTED. And avoiding the occassion of sin is part and parcel of Catholic living.

    10. “Fact:Nobody but the man he abused as a child knew McCarrick was a pedophile until WEEKS ago, not YEARS ago.”

      Well that’s patently false and everyone knows it.

      “I have no doubt that as the old files get emptied out in various areas, we will all get our fill (again) of how perverts did their perverting over the last 70 years.”

      Oh wait, you know it too.

  29. Simcha is now the sweetheart of rad trads. From now on context means nothing and everything must be seen through the lens of Trump’s Amerika.

    1. How in the devil does “Trump’s America” have anything to do with any of this? Where did you pull that from? It’s not Simcha who is seeing everything through a lens of their own making here.

    2. Nonsense. (Do you know what a rad trad is? Ms Fisher is not one.) She always like Pope Francis – far more than I do, as it happens – and is painfully disappointed that he is not behaving especially well in this moment of crisis. That does not mean she rejects all that he stands for.

  30. Yeah…it’s all pretty disheartening.

    I’m very thankful for our good bishops, and I’ll be doing all I can in my own diocese. I don’t know what else I can do.

  31. There seems to be this huge disconnect among many people (often but not exclusively men) who just do not understand at all how the dynamics of abusive relationships work. They look at adult victims and say, “They could have gone to the police, left the situation, told someone,” with no concept of how often people ask for help and ate dismissed or blamed for the abuse (in addition to the way the abuser blames them).

    1. Rebecca, you are completely right about how abusers operate.

      Good God–I don’t think it’s fair to conflate Francis with the sytematic abusers. From the beginning of his pontificate he has stood up to the entitled.

  32. An excellent article, but I don’t understand this: “I do remember his gentleness, his compassion, his direct and sincere kindness in the past. I don’t believe that was false.”

    Pope Francis has been the most unfairly and pointless insulter that we have ever had as Pope. A few examples:

    1. My take on what Francis has been doing the last 2 weeks is somewhat in line with this comment, in that Francis is known to have a quick temper and to speak impulsively.
      I wouldn’t go so far as accusing him of gaslighting or victim-blaming, though.
      I think he considered Vigano’s letter to be centered more on a clericalism scandal than an abuse one. (Though he is wrong to do so) I think Francis is reacting as if it is a political attack, and not directly addressing the abused with his comments regarding silence. B/c in his own mind, he *just had* addressed the abused, in the letter HE himself had issued that very week.
      He did NOT remain silent after the McCarrick/Pennsylvania news. All the talk of silence has been since the Vigano thing.

      1. Well, he wasn’t silent, but he didn’t talk about the scandal. A few days after Honduras hit the news and the day after McCarrick hit the news, Francis issued a major statement about… the death penalty.

        1. Ouch. I didn’t think I could feel worse. I miss the days when he could talk about the same old concerns that bothered the Church in years past. Now when he does it sounds like he’s trying to change the subject. Ugh.

  33. Not to sound cynical but thinking globaly the pollution of the oceans is a bigger problem than sex abuse scandals in the American church. Even here in my european country some catholics use the crisis to point fingers and make fun of American catholics. I know it is rude and wrong. For the majority of the church the sex abuse scandal simply does not matter.

    I want Francis to finally speak and to speak the truth. I cannot really understand why he remains silent. My thought is that he seeing the big picture does not see it as a big problem. Besides most scandals are over in a few weeks and people move on to the next issue.

    Another thing he once got burned when he believed a supposed abuse victim from Spain.

    1. The sex abuse scandals are world wide, we’re seeing it here, in France, in Australia and in South America. It is AT LEAST as important as pollution and Francis should be addressing it.

    2. “Besides most scandals are over in a few weeks and people move on to the next issue.”

      This is the problem, and it’s what the pope is banking on: the all-too-human tendency to assume a crisis is over just because it’s not being shoved in our faces.

      And if the situations in Chile and Nicaragua are any indication, you should know that this isn’t an “American problem”. The sexual sins or Europe’s clergy will come to light soon enough.

    3. The oceans are important, but to put them over wounded and abused human beings also points to a profound lack of concern about God’s creation. And since humanity is the only thing revealed to be created in the Image of God Himself, it’s a further insult to Him that some are willing to treat the abuse of children, teens, and vulnerable adults as a lesser thing than pollution in a vast sea. Christ said, “That you do to the least of these, you do to Me” should sharpen our focus on what He considers really important to Him.

      By all means, be a good steward of creation, but don’t forget in the process that humanity is not merely a part of creation, but the reason creation happened.

      1. That’s true. And also – even more significantly – Francis is not ruler of the oceans, nor of the nations that make policies about pollusion, etc. All he can do about plastics is lecture people. And in fact, he has no expertise that would fit him for figuring out what kind of policies would best address the problem. That’s the role of civil society and its government.

        On the other hand, he is actually absolute ruler of the Church, which means every single Church abuse scandal in the world is in fact directly under his control. In fact, they’re his responsibility, and failure to deal with these scandals is very much a dereliction of his own, personal duty, for which he will surely answer on the last day. I think Christ might have said something about millstones in this very context…

        1. This is exactly right, Anna. Thank you. Also if the sexual abuse crisis “simply doesn’t matter” to the rest of the world, then the rest of the world has entirely missed the fact that each precious soul is as important as the whole world to God. As an abuse survivor I have had to come to learn this in order to trust in His love; no one is expendable; no one should be used up and discarded and then blamed and silenced. In fact, each single instance of sexual abuse is a crime that cries to Heaven for justice. Instead we are being told that it will not even be “dignified with a response” by the Holy Father.

          Is it disloyal to question this? Was it disloyal when people questioned the morality of the corrupt popes of the past? Simply being elected Pope does not canonize one. The office is due the highest respect, but the office and the office holder are not the same; sometimes the glory of the office is underscored by the incredible unfitness of the one holding it.

          I don’t pretend to know the state of Pope Francis’ soul, nor I think does Ms. Fisher. But I can be a loyal and faithful Catholic and respond to what is known and said. Christ never said to turn somebody else’s cheek; we have a responsibility to defend the defenseless against any in authority who would abuse them, and that responsibility has been sadly, shockingly abrogated from the highest levels on down, though thankfully not universally. I am grateful for the decent-hearted, faithful bishops and priests who continue to do their best to be clean and trustworthy in the midst of this swamp. I am also grateful for Ms. Fisher’s courage in speaking up, knowing that the reaction of many would be an inattentive and unjust “Be silent.”

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