In the face of calls for him to step aside, the Archbishop of Ljubljana, in Slovenia, has passed the buck on clerical abuse, playing off the demands of the Church of caring for pedophile priests against the demands of caring for survivors.
Driving the news
With regards to priest abusers, “you cannot just simply write them off”, Archbishop Stanislav Zore said January 17, in remarks to the Odmevi news show reported by the STA agency.
Zore was responding to claims he had not dealt seriously with abuse victims’ complaints, nor drawn up robust anti-abuse guidelines for the Slovenian Church.
The archbishop admitted the criticisms had been weighing heavily on him, since he recognised the duty of care the Church has for survivors but also the duty of care it has towards priests, including sex offenders.
Zore defended himself from the attacks on his leadership on the abuse issue by recalling, too, that the reputations of innocent priests have been damaged by false allegations.
The archbishop said the calls for his resignation were exaggerated, since under his leadership the Slovenian Bishops have been proactive in dealing with pedophilia in clerical ranks, including by drawing up anti-pedophilia protocols.
Not only has the Slovenian Church addressed every complaint directed to it – involving the police and psychological support where necessary – but it also hasn’t engaged in any cover-ups, according to Zore.
At any rate, the arcbishop insisted on the duty of clerical abuse survivors to report their aggressions to the authorities, and to thereby help “remove all that does not belong in the Church”.
Why it matters
Despite Zore’s denials of inaction, the Dovolj.je (“It’s Enough”) Catholic survivors’ group continued to call for Zore’s resignation, as well as the ouster of other senior Slovenian clerics.
Igor Vovk, a senior member of Dovolj.je, has repeated the claim that despite Zore’s trumpeting of the mandatory reporting guidelines the Slovenian Bishops adopted in April 2019 for priests and other Church workers, “everything remains dead ink on paper”.
The only Slovenian bishop who has taken the abuse crisis seriously has been Murska Sobota Archbishop Peter Štumpf, who stripped a pedophile priest of his orders, Vovk claimed.
But Štumpf has been backing Archbishop Zore through the turmoil this week, praising the Ljubljana prelate’s efforts to tackle the abuse crisis and saying “if Archbishop Zore resigns, Archbishop Štumpf resigns as well”.