The Freedom From Religion Foundation condemns the pope’s recent statement calling pedophile priests “God’s children” in need of “Christian love.”
“A god that would produce such ‘children’ is hardly a deity to be honored, much less worshiped,” says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. “What about the victims — and their need for love, protection and justice?”
At a private meeting on April 29, Pope Francis told a group of Jesuits that any priest who has sexually abused children “must be condemned, indeed, but as a brother. Condemning him is to be understood as an act of charity.” He described such pedophile priests as “God’s children” who needed “a punishment but also pastoral care.”
Such half-hearted condemnation of clergy abuse from the head of a church that has institutionalized sexual abuse shows why the church continues to produce abusers, conceals their crimes and denies justice to survivors of priest abuse. Bombshell reports from all over the world for decades have revealed a shocking scope of child sex abuse within the Catholic Church, as well as repeated systemic cover-ups by church leaders. Senior church leadership has reportedly resisted every attempt at reforming the church to address this massive problem, and statements like the pope’s do not help.
Earlier this week, FFRF Senior Policy Counsel Ryan Jayne spoke at a press conference regarding the Wisconsin Department of Justice investigation into clergy sex abuse. In typical form, the Milwaukee Archdiocese has refused to cooperate with this investigation, making it as difficult as possible to hold abusers accountable. FFRF and its allies are working to ensure the DOJ protects Wisconsin children by vigorously pursuing its investigation in court.
Instead of hedging his condemnation with offers of “charity” and “pastoral care,” the pope should have demanded that churches protect young congregants by turning abusers over to secular authorities. Pope Francis has claimed the church has “zero tolerance,” but his actions say otherwise. That’s why for years, FFRF has called on responsible, caring people to wake up and “quit the Catholic Church.”
FFRF stands in support of abuse survivors, and works to educate the public about the danger of trusting children to the unsupervised care of clergy who claim a divine authority. Thanks to rigorous efforts from journalists and prosecutors in recent years, parents can no longer claim to be surprised when a “man of God” turns out to be a predator.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a Wisconsin-based national nonprofit organization with over 40,000 members across the country. Our purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.