Catholic World News

John Paul II took action when informed of abuse, former spokesman insists

April 25, 2014

Joaquin Navarro-Valls, who served as director of the Vatican press office under Pope John Paul II, told reporters in Rome that the Polish Pontiff acted decisively once he realized the depth of the sex-abuse problem.

Countering criticism that John Paul II failed to discipline abusers, Navarro-Valls said: "The way of addressing the pedophilia crisis started very clearly in his pontificate." He added that the investigation that eventually led to disciplinary action against the late Father Marcial Maciel began while John Paul II was Pope.

The former papal spokesman conceded that John Paul II did not immediately recognize the severity of the problem when reports first emerged. "I don't think anyone did," he said. But when reports from the US in 2002 revealed the scope of the problem, the Pope acted promptly, he recalled, summoning the leaders of the American hierarchy to Rome to discuss the problem.

George Weigel, the biography of John Paul II, agreed. "I think there was an information gap particularly between the United States and the Holy See in the first months of 2002, so that the Pope was not living this crisis in real time," he said. But by April, Weigel continued, John Paul II was aware of the scandal and "acted decisively."


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  • Posted by: filioque - Apr. 25, 2014 10:52 PM ET USA

    Jg23753479 is exactly right. It has been a constant dodge to call the problem pedophilia. According to the report by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, commissioned by the USCCB, more than 80% of the incidents involved adolescent boys: they were homosexual attacks on adolescent boys, not pedophilia. Homosexuals were and are running amok in our clergy and there is no doubt that there are bishops among them, many compromised and afraid to act against the network.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Apr. 25, 2014 8:11 PM ET USA

    The difficulty specifically in all this is the urgency to canonize. We might understand it is moot in a sense, but why this intense rush? Anyone with a background in institutional leadership understands the importance of accountability. Perhaps there is no "there" there. But not even a decade has passed. Fallout is still taking place. The full story is still unfolding. There is a tremendous credibility issue already. The Church must be the example in a world so deeply wounded.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 25, 2014 5:45 PM ET USA

    Novarro-Valls seems to be determined to conduct a misinformation campaign as he runs interference for JP2. As jg noted, Novarro-Valls used the false label of pedophilia to describe the problem. Then he spoke as if the problem only began in 2002, and JP acted swiftly when told of it. It's hard to believe that JP didn't first learn of such evils as early as his seminary days, and that after that he was completely unaware. A family deserves to have a father not so easily caught off guard.

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Apr. 25, 2014 3:28 PM ET USA

    How many offending bishops did he suggest should resign? Beyond that rhetorical question, Navarro-Valls is wrong to call it "the pedophilia crisis", something it never was. It was and continues to be a double-edged sword piercing to the heart of the Church: on the one hand we have a global nest of sodomite priests, and on the other a hierarchy reluctant till very recently to do absolutely anything about the perverts except move them around. Only a few of the perverts were or are pedophiles.