In 2015 Pope Frances appointed Bishop Juan Barros to lead the diocese in Osorno Chile, the very city in which I started my mission in the mid 1970’s. But this appointment was not without controversy. Barros was accused of covering up sexual abuse by his mentor, Father Karadima. The Pope ignored and dismissed these allegations and appointed him anyway.
Fast forward to this year, and in January during his visit to Chile he said he was convinced Barros was innocent. This created so much uproar by Catholics in Chile (churches were firebombed!) that when he got home the Pope sent investigators to get to the bottom of the cover-up allegations. They listened to 64 testimonies of people affected by the scandal, and found out that the abuse was much more widespread than previously expected. In the end 80 additional priests were implicated in addition to Father Karadima. The result was a 2300 page report out last month showed that Barros did cover up the abuse. So what did the Pope do? Call his lawyers? Bury the report to never see the light of day? Nope, he apologized.
This week he called all the Bishops from Chile to Rome, to meet with him and discuss how to make this right. From a Jesuit Newspaper called America is the following passage about the letter to the Chilean Bishops:
In his letter, the pope acknowledged his own “responsibility” for handling the appointment of Bishop Barros to Osorno and the reaction to it and “serious errors” he had made “in the assessment and perception of the situation, especially because of the lack of truthful and balanced information.” After asking forgiveness from all those he had offended, he urged the Chilean bishops to prepare for the summit with prayer, reflection and a spirit of “magnanimity” so that “it would be the Spirit who would guide us with his gift, and not our interests or, even worse, our wounded pride.”
I was wondering if the LDS church had a scandal of this magnitude, how they might handle it. Does their handling of the MTC case give us a window into their thinking on things like this? Do you think that the Catholic church problems in Chile are talked about by the Q15? Would they use that to learn from the Catholic Church’s mistakes? Or do they think that nothing like that could ever happen to them?
If the LDS church ever had a scandal like this, would they admit that mistakes were made, or would they call their lawyers and hunker down? Can the church move away from Elder Oaks’ proclamation that the church doesn’t “seek apologies, and we don’t give them.”? Could the members handle a prophet that admits “serious errors” were made? Would this just open a can of worms about past mistakes?
“the church doesn’t ‘seek apologies, and we don’t give them.'” from the same person that said “It is wrong to criticize the leaders of the Church, even if the criticism is true.”
It’s probably important to remember that this apology is for actions that Francis personally took and that it follows years of denial and only after a thorough investigation. It’s not exactly an example of the Pope rushing to make things right.
Can anyone doubt what the church would do?
Given what I have seen the last few years, I can’t image that level of humility. It seems to me the “reputation of the church” is paramount over any justice to individuals.
Regarding the steps to repentance, there appears to be a disparity here. Whilst the Church does not apologise, the general membership are expected to admit and recognise when they make mistakes. There now appears to be dual standard dependant upon your Church calling. We are taught that the Lord’s House is a house of order. So, where do we go from here?
Wilford Woodruff’s statement “the Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of the Church to lead you astray” and Ezra Benson’s more recent statement “The prophet will never lead the Church astray” in his fourteen fundamentals probably prohibits or massively limits this level of humility. Also claiming policies are revelation provides powerful incentive to believe we are always right – and even if we err it’s not because of error but because there’s a higher purpose.
We would be so much better off as a church if apologizing were considered a Christlike attribute. Instead, it seems to be that believing oneself faultless and flawless is the piece they seek to emulate.
At this point I can’t imagine the Church or it’s top leaders apologizing. At the same time, until it does, I can’t imagine myself again believing that Christ leads the LDS Church.
An apology for our history of racism was given by President Nelson in a meeting with the NAACP. There is a transcript at Mormon newsroom.
Here is a more recent posting on the Salt Lake Tribune reporting the so-called apology for racism to be a hoax: https://www.sltrib.com/news/2018/05/17/no-the-mormon-church-did-not-apologize-for-having-a-history-of-racism.
Yes, it’s turned out to be a very clever hoax. No apology was actually issued, no forgiveness sought, as all is well in Zion.