Pope Francis Calls for 'Decisive Action' on Sexual Abuse, but Can He Really Act?

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Pope Francis has finally offered his first official thoughts about what he plans to do about the Cathloic Church's sexual abuse problem. On Friday, the Vatican released a statement calling for the Church to "continue the line desired by Benedict XVI of decisive action," including support for abuse victims and punishment for those who have committed crimes. 

What else would the Pope say? He's the Pope. At the very least Francis would have to continue down the path set by his predecessor and make sure that the abuse scandal remains a top priority. However, there were many who felt that Benedict's "decisive action" was not decisive enough, and that his retirement left this large challenge mostly unresolved. 

That's why, even before he was elected, people have been asking what the new Pope intended to do. And they don't just want more statements and apologies—they want action. They're willing to cut him some slack, since he's only been on the job for less than a month. But it is arguably the most pressing issue facing the entire Church right now and Catholics will want to see some sort of definitive steps taken soon. They want him to not just say that it's a priority, but they want him to prove it, too.

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A translation of the full statement is below.

"The Holy Father today received in audience Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. During the audience, various subjects pertaining to the Dicastery were discussed, the Holy Father recommended in particular that the Congregation, continue the line desired by Benedict XVI of decisive action regarding cases of sexual abuse, primarily by promoting measures for child protection; help for the many who in the past have suffered such violence; due process against those who are guilty; the commitment of Bishops' Conferences in the formulation and implementation of the necessary directives in this area which is of great importance to the witness of the Church and its credibility. The Holy Father assured that the victims of abuse and their suffering are especially present in his thoughts and prayers."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.