THE PASTORAL CARE OF SEX OFFENDERS

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Many, many people, especially parents, become very angry when it comes to sex offenders.

Their irrational approach is understandable but society cannot be guided by emotion and anger.

Society, and the churches, have to have a pastoral plan for the care of sex offenders.

Of course, in this are the victims of sex offenders should always be the NUMBER 1 concern.

Victims have the priority in this area – and victims should be listened to, believed, supported, given the very best counselling and pastoral care and be justly compensated for their horrific ordeals.

Sex offenders should be detected, prosecuted and sentenced to serious terms of imprisonment. In prison they should receive therapy for their illness. 

And when they get out of prison we Christians have a duty before God to extend pastoral care to them.

That pastoral care should enable

  1. The offenders to live in places where they pose the least danger to children.
  2. The offenders are entitled to a safe home and a quality of life.
  3. They should be accepted into church communities and have a designated person to supervise them and help them not to reoffend.
  4. They should be encouraged to engage on a life long programme so that they can manage their condition.

In the case of bishops and priests they should never again be allowed a public ministry or access to children or vulnerable others.

Offenders need to stay away from schools, youth clubs and public areas where children gather.

In my experience there are two types of sex offender:

  1. Those who know and accept what they did was morally wrong and criminal and who are determined not to reoffend.
  2. And those who have no remorse and would quickly reoffend if they got the opportunity.

The first type can he helped.

The second type cannot – and they must be supervised most carefully as they pose a high risk.

There are those who say that sex offending is an unforgivable sin. It is not. There is no sin, no matter how great, that cannot be forgiven by God if the person is truly sorry and determined not to do the wrong again.

I have worked with both victims and offenders.

I have been commended for working with victims – and condemned for working with offenders.

But the Christian and the minister/priest is there for all men and women – not matter what they have done.

Sometimes I think that it would be a good idea if there were well thought out and supervised religious communities in which offenders could live a life of openness, prayer, support and goodness.

Of course, such a community would need access to the very best medical, psychological and psychiatric expertise – as many offenders are very devious and can be very persuasive.

Those who work with offenders, to stop them reoffending, are actually involved in child protection work.

Sex offenders are still human beings and must be treated as such.

And at the same time, our number one priority must be the protection of children and the care of victims.


 

 

Simon Bass – Chief Executive of The Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service

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SIMON BASS

“As followers of Jesus, we are called to minister to everyone in church including sex offenders, but we should never do so in isolation from child protection professionals or in ignorance of the harm done to their victims.
In fulfilling God’s mission, we should open wide the church doors as we minister to anyone who calls upon Jesus’ name (Romans 10:13). God’s grace through the sacrifice of his son, Jesus Christ, makes a way for all who have sinned, even if that sin is also a heinous crime (Ephesians 2:8). God wants us restored to him, and in right relationship achieved through our willingness to repent and seek forgiveness. I am so grateful that we serve a God of second chances. In the story of the prodigal son, Jesus teaches that God will always welcome with open arms those who come to him with an authentic, repentant heart. This includes sexual offenders (Luke 15:21-22).
When churches minister to sex offenders, they must implement a careful grace that is based upon an educated understanding of offenders and how they act. A careful grace starts with putting the needs of children and survivors first. A careful grace embraces the reality that actions must have consequences. A careful grace requires church leaders and workers to be trained in child protection, and our churches to have clear and effective child safeguarding policies and procedures. Only within a context of careful grace can churches effectively care for sex offenders. What does careful grace require of churches who minister to sex offenders”?

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In order to protect children, churches should require sex offenders to sign a written contract that articulates clear behavioural boundaries relating to any church-related function with consequences for failing to comply and that articulates on-going pastoral care that the offender must receive from the church. Church contracts for sex offenders enact Galatians 6:10, doing good to everyone as we have opportunity. Being a good steward in church includes stewarding risky conduct. We should not place a convicted sex offender in a place of temptation; we need to be wise (Matthew 10:16).
Contracts should be in place for anyone who the church knows has committed any type of sexual offence, whether against an adult or a child. Sexual offences should include both physical, sexual abuse and online abuse (i.e. child pornography). Such contracts should remain in place indefinitely, and be reviewed on a regular basis, irrespective of whether or not the offender is under the jurisdiction of the court.
A risk assessment should be a condition of any offender contract, with the understanding that the church may decide that the offender must worship somewhere else. Most sex offenders want to be accepted into the church and will likely attempt to minimize their crime. Thus, it is critical for the church to ascertain whether or not it is even possible for the offender to join the congregation. When evaluating an offender for membership, a church should obtain a professional risk assessment from the offender’s probation officer or any other professional whom the court has ordered to supervise and manage the sex offender.
Church contracts should also severely limit sex offenders’ participation in any form of public ministry in the church. The contract should outline the service boundaries sex offenders must keep in the church and in the wider church family. Sex offenders commonly target children in the church in order to gain their trust for the purpose of eventually abusing them outside the church building. Therefore, an offender must never be placed in a position of trust or responsibility that in any manner communicates to children that they are safe.
A church should not ask a sex offender to be part of the public platform. They should not share their testimony about their offences for a number of reasons:
An offender’s testimony is insulting to survivors of abuse who hear offenders describe their past sins.
An offender’s testimony may give the impression to kids and parents that the church considers the offender to be safe.
For some sex offenders, they will get sexual pleasure in re-telling their story.
An offender’s testimony can distance survivors in the church, who rightly will be asking where is their opportunity to share their stories about the harm done to them, and God’s healing.
An offender’s testimony can also cause disunity in the church as people have very strong emotional responses to sex offenders, with the result ranging from vigilantism towards the offender to people leaving the church.
Truly repentant sex offenders will understand and accept the limitations within the contract. Churches who implement contracts for sexual offenders are not being judgemental. Instead, they are recognizing that true repentance is demonstrated by embracing accountability and a lifetime process of authentic transformation. Most critically, churches who implement contracts for sexual offenders understand that the principle aim of such a contract is the protection of children who are a precious part of the church family”.

 

48 thoughts on “THE PASTORAL CARE OF SEX OFFENDERS

  1. God is love.(1John4:7-21).There is no sin or crime beyond the mercy of God. No one is excluded from Gods love or the christian community. Having said that, if clergy had children of their own, the ‘ irrational ‘ response of parents might not be considered so ‘irrational’ and this ‘scandal’ might never have gone on or have been covered up for generations. What’s societies and the churches pastoral plan for victims/survivors? What church document, in the public domain, guides the clergy and hierarchy in their response to victims/ survivors? In theory victims/survivors should be the number 1 concern. In practice, that is not the case. The church has put its own concerns and the concerns of priest perpetrators ahead of any other concerns. Cardinal Law of Boston, who covered up, was protected and shipped off to Rome; Cardinal McCarrick, protected for years by the complicit silence of many clerics; Cardinal Pell protected until he had to return to Australia;- priests world wide protected by their Bishops. Bishops and Cardinals, protected themselves in the Dallas charter of 2002, in America. Endless! Sexual abuse has been institutionalised and tolerated by the church hierarchy for generations, a routine issue for Bishops, dealt with internally by the church. At this point, the church is being considered a criminal syndicate. The catholic church is guilty of a grave moral failure for allowing and covering up, widespread sexual abuse of children and abuse of vulnerable people,-Institutional sin and crime.
    Pope Benedict, in his recent article, fails to mention his role in covering up for decades.
    ‘ Why did pedophilia reach such proportions’ he asks? Benedict answers by saying, ‘Ultimately, the reason is the absence of God’. Does God remain absent?

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  2. I believe the mercy of God is for everyone. The civil courts exact justice for various criminal behaviour. We all feel repulsed at the sexual abuse of children and vulnerable people. It is a horrendous and reprehensible violence. When a person, irrespective of background or profession, is released from prison, what are we to do? What is the Church to do in relation to offending priests? Isolate and abandon them? I believe some after care and vigilance is absolutely necessary. I’m not sure how this should be done but I admire Pat for giving sanctuary to sex offenders at the Oratory and offering pastoral care. I’m just wondering why it seems acceptable for Pat to do this – and I agree with him – and yet, if I as a cleric did the same I know I’d be lynched and verbally abused by blog commentators! I know too my community would not be at all pleased. In fact I know there would be protests outside my house. As Christ’s followers, mercy and compassion must go hand in hand with justice. But most importantly, the well being of victims/survivors must be paramount. For me they would be my priority. After that I’m not sure if I would exercise, as Pat does, any outreach to offenders. As great an act of Christ likeness it is, I place victims/survivors first.

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  3. 9:12
    9:12
    Mornin Fly hi.
    Begorra so ‘tis Palm Sunday.
    I wouldn’t presume nathin fly hi. ‘Tis true offenders are wounded people too but they can’t be let goin on woundin others. Th law is an ass fly. I’m goin shanking palm. Bye fly hi.

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  4. In my experience, the response of the Church and its officials to a situation of abuse is invariably one of ‘covering their own arses’. That and running around like headless chickens without a clue what to do.
    All of the stuff that + Pat has posted on the blog for our consideration today is fine in theory. it looks good in the printed word. But, behind the fine words and intentions, Church officials spend their time mostly worrying about the consequences for themselves and how they can minimise their own liability and involvement. Most, even if unconsciously, think of the Daily Mail / Sun test: ‘What is the headline going to look like if something goes wrong?’ Which is a concern for their own reputational damage, and generally covering their own backsides.
    So, the theory is fine and sounds good. But, I don’t believe it. I believe what I see is self-concern, self-protection and reputational concern. all wrapped up in fine words about the primacy of the innocent, young and vulnerable, our ‘most precious’.
    Let’s say it as it is. Even in talking about doing ‘the right thing’ the Church reverts to character and takes care of itself first and foremost. It did it when these vile crimes were being perpetrated – coverup, lies, denial, transference of blame etc – and it continues to do it now even when saying that it has ‘got it’ and is ‘dealing with it’. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.
    You may say I’m being cynical, I say I’m just being realistic and saying what I see and what I know. Whatever, it is a fact that the Church has by and large lost our trust and good faith, and anything it now says is put through the prism of questioning its truthfulness. By and large, the Church fails this test. We do not trust it anymore. The Church has forfeited its right to being automatically believed. It now has to be forensically questioned at every step. We need to come up with a ‘contract’ for the Church to ensure that it does the right thing. Just like offenders, its wickedness is so ingrained that it will manipulate, lie and deceive to achieve its ends. It is not just offenders that we need to be wary of, it is the Church itself which should cause us concern and make us keep a close eye on it, question it, doubt it, and only after vigorous surveillance give it the benefit of any doubt. If ever.
    it is a ‘good thing’ that states and secular governments / organisations are questioning the Church and keeping an eye on it, such as IICSA in the UK and various other investigations. The Church has been found incapable of governing and ordering itself.
    Pope, cardinals, bishops, priests…..you need to know that we no longer believe you or trust you.

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    1. @8.47
      Best, in all respects, piece of writing I’ve read on here – ever.
      So sad, but true.

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  5. Fly On Th Wall 14th Apr 2019 — 9:12 am

    Tis Palm Sunday so tis. Sex offenders are people too so they are hi. I presume they are on the register and conditions linked to their licence hi. Safeguarding Officer should be aware and risk assessment in place Leave tother stuff ta d law hi. I’m off to shake a lump a palm hi Ally like lu. but

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  6. Poor turnout for the Palm Sunday Mass in St Peter’s Square. I thought he was the Most Popular Pope Ever?

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    1. 9.30 You obviously watched it you moron. If you hate the RC Church and the Holy Father, why tune in? Gossip, scandal, bad news – you thrive on it. I hope that God has mercy on your soul on the day of judgement and forgives you for contributing to hate.

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      1. 9:38 : 9:49

        A ‘mea culpa’might be sufficient all round….

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      2. Dear me, Father Mick, sounds like there is a lot of anger and aggression in you. Just because people don’t think like you is no reason for you to be so abusive. I think a quiet lie down is required, and perhaps some counseling, and leave off the pop for a while. You might present as a bit more pleasant and lovable then.

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      3. Is that you “BIG” Mick?

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      4. @9.38
        Listen, Father Mick, just because Francis is a very dubious character it doesn’t mean that we Catholics are going to run away from OUR Church and leave it to him and the likes of him. You aren’t getting it that easily! Your mistaken cultishness shows in the fact you think he/she was tuning in to see the personality of francis. Rather the commentator was tuning in to see the Palm Sunday ceremonies of HIS Church. Francis and his henchmen don’t own it, so get that through your seemingly thick head.

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    2. He is (9:20). He tells people to stay in their parishes and celebrate together, just like for his Mass of inauguration he advised people from Argentina and places far away to stay at home and pray for him there.

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      1. @2.57
        Part of his agenda to downgrade Rome and the Papacy.
        Anyhow, he certainly didn’t want any Argentinians at his inauguration as they knew too much about him!
        By the way, where did that report diagnosing him as unsuitable for any high office disappear to? The same place as abusers’ files? Thin air?

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      2. At 8:05
        You sound like one of the now diminishing number of right-wing US Catholics who are not at home in this papacy. Yes. Francis is trying to decentralise the Church’s administration.
        And, btw, a sizeable number of popes would have had something similar written about them, though in most of those cases it would have been accurate.

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  7. 9.20 and 9.49. Info – I do not drink. I just do not get it that people like you constantly criticise the RC Church. If you hate it then leave. We don’t need you or want you. I bet you will be off to Mass today that includes praying for the Pope. Being too faced is ugly. Pray for me as I will you.

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    1. 9.56: If you are a priest, don’t leave yourself ooen to the tyranny if abuse in this blog levelled against clerics. You ad I know that the Church has dine grave harm. It has damaged and hurt and violated many, many people. That’s unforgivable. We as priests must accept criticism, even abusive behaviour, sadly. This blog will facilitate that abuse. God help us all.

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      1. No. What you call abuse is merely the reaction you should expect to the way your beloved church behaves. And if Mick wonders why people can’t leave it alone he should read up on the effects of abuse. Idiot.

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    2. Your obviously not the sharpest tool in the box “Fr Mick”, are you?
      “Too faced” (sic)??? What level of education did you achieve?
      And surely the Church, in its truest expression, DOES want and need everyone?
      You do yourself no favours “Fr Mick”. A wee night class in English Language too wouldn’t go amiss.

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      1. Actually I think it’s probably ‘Fr Prick’ who had a run in with an abuse survivor here the other week.

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  8. Timmy’s wife 14th Apr 2019 — 9:59 am

    Myself and Timmy enjoyed the Chinese last night. I had to leave the bathroom light on all night for Timmy just Incase…

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    1. 9:59 Did Timmy get through the night?

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      1. Update!
        The Chinese food, sorry to have to report, did …. ahem ….. backfire somewhat on Timmy this morning.
        One is having to don one’s marigolds to tackle the back of armitage shanks very shortly as visitors are due for afternoon tea.

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  9. The RC Church is very much thriving. St Peter’s Square packed out today. Amen!
    PS – Pat. A genuine question. Why, when you are no longer part of the RC Church, would you bother wanting to gain entry to the Vatican (their HQ) dressed up as a Bishop? Was there any need? You weren’t causing problems? May this holy week bring you peace, healing and contentment from the hurt you are still suffering after leaving many years ago. I will make a donation to your own Catholic Church later today.

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    1. I did not want to go into the Vatican. The sick priest I was did, and he put me under great pressure to go in with him. I was wearing what I wear every day. A cross and chain should not upset anyone – but of course they do say that Satan and his followers cant stand the image of Christ crucified.

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      1. 2.29: Pat, I don’t believe you. It’s not anyone’s business but yours whether you went into the Vatucan or not. Your attempt to cast all clerics in a dark way is unfair and unjust. It’s a lie you perpetuate about priests in general. There seems little point in putting any other opinion forward. You sneer, dismiss and rudicule all too frequently. You just can’t resist priest bashing….

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      2. I know and have met many good priests.

        But why do they not speak up about the abuse and corruption they see?

        Silence can be immoral and sinful.

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    2. 2:14
      Shocking. 😷 Sympathies to Timmys wife.

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  10. Irrational anger? PLEEASE! Most of them go onto reoffend, perhaps that why so many are attracted to the priesthood where they are fed & watered, protected from justice and supported when they are exposed. The Vatican is a corrupt state and should be treated in the same way as North Korea. I cannot think of any other profession that attracts so many pedophiles or and other organisation that protects and covers up for them. Suffer little children to come unto me????????????????????????????????????????

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    1. 10:29
      Anger is an emotion.
      It’s expression is not necessarily irrational but
      very rational and appropriate.
      Didn’t Jesus get angry in the temple?
      Was that not an expression of righteous indignation?
      This blog gives people an opportunity to express righteous indignation at
      church corruption abuse and crime in Ireland and internationally.

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      1. @9.40
        You are posting irrational nonsense.
        There is no right to express all emotions wantonly. Are you crazy?
        There is no comparison between Jesus’s anger for insults to God and Fr Mick being nasty because someone has a different opinion on Pope francis. Wise up!

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  11. Are you for real posting this SHITE Pat?

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    1. 11:44
      I’m agreeing with you.( I put it badily). I never said people have a right to express all emotions wantonly.
      Anger and its expression is not necessarily irrational. It’s expression is not necessarily irrational but can be very rational and appropriate depending on circumstances.The anger of a parent whose child has been sexually abused is not irrational, in my view. The ‘Fr. Micks’ of this world are likely to be angry because all in the church is not ok, life is a tad uncomfortable and their pedestals are shaken, from top to bottom. Hence the defensiveness and hypersensitivity of some. Others are feeling sorry for themselves wanting to be perceived as victims and ranting on about ‘priest haters’ if someone says boo to any of them on this blog. And others are honest and say it as they see it. I’m inclined to think Jesus would be likely to use the whip if He was walking the earth today.

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      1. @3.37
        I get ye now!
        If someone abused one of my children I would be incandescent with rage, and it WOULD be entirely justifiable. Agree.

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  12. MournemanMichael 14th Apr 2019 — 12:08 pm

    From my long ago days as a professional in child protection: 20 yrs+, I am mindful of some key issues in dealing with abusers, clerical or otherwise.
    Child sexual abusers, almost without exception, are serial abusers both opportunistically and consciously planned. What they admit to is rarely the sum total of their abuse. Regardless of their protestations otherwise, their abusive propensity is not quenched by its discovery. It is simply quiescent and latent.
    Only when an abuser with earnest conviction acknowledges full personal responsibility for, and the full extent of their abuse, can a realistic child protection plan be agreed. Similar to the Alcoholics Anonymous scenario, this plan must entail open acknowledgement of their propensity towards abuse, with explicit agreement of structures necessary to avoid potentially abusive scenarios, such as the avoidance of unsupervised interactions with potentially vulnerable victims: in simple terms and as an example, no longer running youth clubs.
    The situation is even more complicated in dealing with the abusive cleric by its traditionally perceived status and the nature of the role. Furthermore, as the wise words of Anon @ 8:47 above points out: “The church has been found incapable of governing and ordering itself.”
    MMM

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  13. I’d like to know what commentators think about Pat’s pastoral ministry to all kind’s of offenders, irrespective of profession. I believe we cannot just abandon offenders; we have a duty to ensure they do not have opportunity to reoffend. That’s in the best interest of child protection. It is hard, almost impossible, to suggest care of offenders. To do so is to incur the hateful wrath of many. Pat is brave because I know that if I was living close by as a parent, I might be very angry. What are we suppose to do? Pat is offering support and hopefully it will help in rehabitating those ge cares for. If we belong to Christ, we must act like him: condemn unreservedly the sin/crime/abuse but help the offender. It’s a challenge.

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    1. Nobody can say anything other than the fact that Pat is great at Pastoral Ministry.

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  14. Fr Mick. I have taken your advice and left your corrupt church. Your words are despicable and wholly unchristian. Now why does that not surprise me? You, like a whole cabal of others come across as more interested in maintaining the status quo rather than trying to build a Christ based and not a man based church. Really sir you need to grow up and see how rotten your church is

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    1. I agree that some people within my Church are rotten, but what about those of us who aren’t? Should we all walk away and leave them to get on with it? Surely it is better to help to get rid of them and rebuild.

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      1. 4:20 Fr. Mick, is it black and white or just different shades of grey regarding the rotten and those who aren’t? I agree with Bishop Pat, silence can be very morally wrong and sinful.
        Maybe if those who aren’t rotten threatened to walk away en masse that might be a wake up call.
        Or at least if they called for a national synod of clergy and laity to initiate a plan of action and response towards victims, etc, and towards rebuilding and renewal.

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      2. @4.20
        So why then are you viciously attacking those of us who are not groupies of francis precisely BECAUSE he is the head honcho of those who are “rotten”?
        True and faithful Catholics will be here long after he is gone – even though he calls us ‘ Rosary counters, coprophiliacs, coprophagics, and much, much worse’ -see ‘ pope francis’ Little Book of Insults.’
        He has chosen to surround himself with bad men, backtrack on dealing with abusers and concentrate on global politics. I don’t feel he is a father. Deal with it.

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  15. 8:30
    Francis is a rosary counter himself. He never goes anywhere without his beads in one picket and the stations of the cross in the other. You’re paying too much attention to those who demonise him.

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    1. @9.01
      Do they stay in his pocket?
      Are you denying what he was witnessed saying because it doesn’t fit with your gestalt?
      You are giving too much credence to those who spin and cover up for him.

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      1. Right-wing US out-of-step-with-the-current-papacy brigade. If we may believe Crux reporters and their kind, the balance among US bishops has recently tipped in support of Francis.

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      2. No need for anyone to cover up for him. God bless him. His words and actions dpeak for themselves. He’s not perfect and his mistakes are on record. But he’s by far the best this generation can offer. The cardinals chose him and the Hily Spirit will continue to support him for the remainder of his time in the papal office.

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  16. Fly On Th Wall 14th Apr 2019 — 9:20 pm

    9.56 Hi ur right They should leave but are afraid and don’t know what to put in its place Irrational fear of hell might be in there too Hi.

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    1. 9:26pm
      Good Nite to ye fly hi.
      Begorra fly haven’t they been sprinkled with the holy water and are in the family tree.
      Why look down at hell when ye can look up to heaven…hi….no matter what’s happenin’.
      Maybe the Man above is a crazy luvr. Bye fly hi.

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  17. 5.36: Pat, many of us (priests) do speak out about unacceptable abuse of all kinds within the Church. We have done so at various gatherings. We continually express our abhorrence at all abuses, corruption and cover ups. I certainly have done that since the 80’s. I am as repulsed as you are at all abuses. You need to understand that many priests have spoken out publicly on various platforms and have spoken on behalf of all of us. I work in a very big parish. I have spoken out many times. I can only act out of my conscience. You can believe my sincerity and moral outrage or you can choose not to. I’ve never heard you on any platform except your blog!! I speak out in the forum privuded to me in my ministry in the parish. I trust people believe me. Despite my sense of shame and anger, I try to remain focused in all my commitments to the best of my ability. I resent the false narrative promulgated on your blog which says that because I don’t leave the Church, I’m guilty by association. I remain because this is my life and against a very challenging, sometimes bleak background, I try to do my best.

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