NJ ex-priest: Pope’s promise to crack down on sex abuse not enough
Pope Francis, after meeting with victims of child clergy sex abuse Sunday morning, promised a new effort to accountable bishops who don't protect their flocks.
But Robert Hoatson — a former priest with the Archdiocese of Newark and co-founder and president of Livington-based Road to Recovery, which supports survivors of sexual abuse — says he's more concerned about what Pope Francis didn't say.
"I was kind of insulted by it all," Hoatson said. "As a victim survivor, I was insulted that it was kind of a side note."
“To me it’s not enough," he said.
The Pope said he'd create a new Vatican tribunal to prosecute bishops who cover up for pedophile priests rather than reporting them to police.
But Hoatson noted Pope Francis didn't explicitly say he'd hold responsible bishops who have done so in the past — and worried the emphasis would only be on future abuse.
What's more, he said, the Pope didn't make any statement calling on his bishops to stop blocking legislation that could protect clergy sex abuse victims.
As Reuters reported earlier this month, the Church has been using its political clout to opposed bills that would extend the statute of limitations on child sex abuse prosecutions.
Hoatson called the Pope's words "a mixed message." And he said the Pope should have included any victims of sex abuse who were comfortable doing so in his public announcement.
“We don’t show them, we just talk to them," he said.
The victims' advocate also said the Pope should call on Bishops to publicly out priests in their dioceses who have been accused of sex abuse, and to be more specific about the measures that will be taken to prosecute offenders.
"God weeps for the sexual abuse of children," the Pope said Sunday morning. "These cannot be maintained in secret, and I commit to a careful oversight to ensure that youth are protected and that all responsible will be held accountable."
A Vatican spokesman said three women and two men met with the pope for a half hour at the St. Charles Borromeo seminary Sunday.
Dan Alexander conducted an interview with Robert Hoatson and contributed to this report.
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