The Pope and the Orthodox: Serious About Sexual Misconduct Reform?

Author: Theophan Zarras
Date Published: 04/18/2008
Publication: Orthodox Reform
Pope addressing bishops
Pope addressing bishops

The media is widely reporting news of the Pope’s current visit to the United States and his comments on the sexual abuse crisis.

“The pontiff called the scandal a cause of “deep shame”, and spoke of the “enormous pain” that communities have suffered from such “gravely immoral behaviour” by priests.” (“Pope Slams Church Over Child Abuse,” April 17, 2008,

The pope went so far as to meet privately with several adults who were abused as children by Catholic priests.

These are good statements, and a great first step pastorally. But is it enough? SNAP, a victim’s support group, says deeds must follow words:

“But fundamentally it won’t change things. Kids need action. Catholics deserve action. Action produces reform and reform, real reform, is sorely needed in the church hierachy.

Some talk is OK. A meeting is better. Decisive reform is crucial.”

“We cannot confuse words – even sincere, eloquent ones – with deeds. The stakes are too high.” (SNAP Press Statement, “Pope meets with victims, SNAP responds,” Statement by Joelle Casteix of Newport Beach CA, SNAP southwestern regional director, April 17, 2008,

And what is the track record of the current Pope with regard to disciplining current bishops