Catholic Church and pedophilia: are these crimes committed by individual and isolated priests and religious officers, or is it a larger problem that calls into question the ecclesiastical institution and its structure? We spoke with Augusto Cavadi, philosophical consultant and lay theologian, author who published, a few years ago, the volume Do not let the children go to them. The Catholic Church and child abuse (with a preface by Vito Mancuso, Falzea publisher).
Cardinal Pell, indicted for serious sexual offenses, is a priest at the top of the hierarchy and was appointed to that position by Pope Francis. Can these accusations cast a shadow on the Pope and his reforming actions?
I think that a Pope, when appointing his collaborators, cannot base his decisions on rumors of the distant past. He must evaluate them on the basis of objective, or at least reliable, data. It would have been really serious, rather, if he had put some obstacle to that, and then the cardinal would stand up in court and be tried as an ordinary citizen. That would have meant that once again, the principle of conspiratorial dirty laundry being washed indoors. But apparently, Pell will respond to the allegations and will present himself at court in Australia. This is a step forward.
Has anything changed in the Catholic Church on the pedophilia issue, in the passage from papa Wojtyla, to Pope Ratzinger and today to Pope Francis?
I’d point the difference between the perception of the phenomenon and its effectiveness. It is clear that with John Paul II and with Benedict XVI, who held the role of Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and was managing the issue even before becoming Pope, the main concern was to save the image of the Church as institution, above the respect to the rights of victims of abuse. And this would lead to a certain resistance of the ecclesiastical authorities in bringing those accused priests to the civil courts.