WXXI AM News

Local reaction to Pope Francis' letter to Catholics

Aug 20, 2018

In a letter released Monday, Pope Francis referred to the acts are "atrocities" and says that the "wounds never disappear."

Tim Thibodeau is a History and Political Science professor at Nazareth College, specializing in the history of the Catholic Church.

He believes social media has helped these issues come to light.

"The victims can be in contact, the media can be involved in this in a way that - lets go back to the cardinal law, the archbishop of Boston scandal in 2002. That was supposed to the the scandal to end all scandals but you just didn’t have this kind of connection in terms of social media to continue to investigate the problem."

The letter comes amid allegations the church covered up years of scandals in Pennsylvania.

Thibodeau says they couldn’t be silent much longer.

"Look, I think the biggest thing right now is that this is a scandal that’s so huge and so complex and it cuts across not just the United States but the whole global community of the church. It can’t be denied it can’t be ignored, and just to greet it with silence is not acceptable."

Thibodeau says the Pope used strong language, but doesn’t refer to the abuse as "abuse" in the letter.

In his opinion, Thibodeau says the almost three page letter might not go far enough for families and survivors.

"I don’t see honestly a lot of practical solutions here aside from some traditional things about prayer and penance and feeling shame and guilt."

A spokesperson for the Vatican told the New York Times it might have been the first time a pope has addressed the issue of sexual abuse.

Bishop Salvatore Matano, of the Rochester Catholic Diocese released a letter Monday where he calls the Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing clerical sexual abuse "shocking and very upsetting" to both those within the Catholic Church and those who are not members. Matano says the Rochester Diocese renews its ongoing commitment to help victims of sexual abuse and follows its "safe environment" policies while also cooperating fully with law enforcement.

Back in June, a Boston attorney was in Rochester to announce that his firm is representing a group of people who say they were sexually abused by priests in the Rochester Catholic Diocese during a period of time from 1950 to 1978.  

The full text of the letter relased by Bishop Matano on Monday is below: 

Bishop Matano's Letter to the Faithful August 20 2018 by WXXI News on Scribd