LOS ANGELES —
The new pontiff, who comes from Latin America where the clergy abuse scandal has been more muted, will likely lean on the American cardinals for advice when it comes to handling the crisis — particularly Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, who was instrumental in setting up a meeting between alleged victims and Pope Benedict XVI in 2008.
O’Malley himself voiced confidence in Pope Francis’ willingness to address the clergy abuse crisis at a news conference in Rome.
“This is a man who has a great sense of mission, and he values transparency,” O’Malley said Thursday. “He will further the process of healing.”
Alleged victims said that while that is their hope, they will nonetheless scrutinize the new pontiff and his actions.
Elsie Boudreau, a Yup’ik Eskimo, was abused for nine years by a Jesuit priest in a tiny village in northern Alaska.
She settled her case in 2005 and now works as a social worker helping 300 other sex abuse victims in Alaska. She has since learned that Vatican officials had been aware of her alleged abuser since before she was born, she said.
“If Pope Francis were to defrock him and all the other perpetrator priests and all those who covered up the crimes and send a clear message to everybody else in the church I would be like, ‘Hmm, OK, there could be a change,”’ said Boudreau, 45, who now lives in Anchorage. “But I don’t believe that will ever happen. There’s no track record.”
Other alleged victims called on Pope Francis to order the release of all confidential records on pedophile priests to cleanse the church and make amends.
Some of those files have been made public through litigation and released under court order, including in Los Angeles where a judge ordered more than 10,000 pages of priest personnel files be made public in January after a five-year legal battle over privacy rights.