Pope Francis’ attempts to address abuse in the Church have been disappointing, the former head of the Irish Church’s child protection board has said.
Commenting on claims that the Pope has utterly failed to tackle the issue, Ian Elliott, who headed the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church, agreed, saying: “He has been a dismal failure so far.”
Mr Elliot, who headed the NBSCCC from 2007 to 2013, told The Irish Catholic, “Pope Francis I think promised a great deal and a sense of expectancy that he would deliver, but he hasn’t. The situations that have arisen haven’t been dealt with very well.”
Citing recent crises in the Australian, US and Chilean hierarchies, Mr Elliott said, “it’s not an isolated issue, it is a problem which is right across the Catholic world and it needs a much more robust and comprehensive response”.
This month’s papal trip to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families would provide a suitable chance for Pope Francis to map out what such a response could entail, but there is no sign this is on the cards, he added.
“This is an opportunity to make a statement, not just apologising for what had happened in the past but about what’s going to happen in the future, maybe announce initiatives that are really going to make a difference,” he said, adding, “there’s no indication that that’s going to happen.”
Commenting how Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin has warned that Pope Francis may not have time on his brief visit to meet abuse survivors, Mr Elliott said such an omission would be regrettable.
“I think that it would obviously be a great disappointment if he didn’t take that opportunity while he was here to listen to them and listen to what those people had to say,” he said.
“Really, the opportunity needs to be seized, with him coming to Ireland – not to talk about the past, but to speak about the future and to give some indication of how matters are going to be dealt with to ensure the kinds of things that happened in the past will not be repeated again in Ireland,” he added.