Pope must take harder line on abuse
Pope Francis said all the right things during the recent extraordinary conference to discuss sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests and coverups by their superiors.
But what he did not say has some observers, both inside the church and out of it, upset.
Francis summoned 190 Catholic bishops and many other high-ranking church officials to Vatican City to discuss the scandal, which dates back generations. Last Sunday, the pope vowed to confront abusers with “the wrath of God.”
For the faithful, that goes without saying and is beyond the influence of any mortal, of course. But it is earthly punishment that concerns those unsatisfied with the pope’s actions during the meeting.
He failed to present a detailed, concrete plan to deal with abuse in the past and prevent it in the future, critics have said.
Some church officials have taken harsh action, of course. Lists of names of priests, even bishops, “credibly accused” of misdeeds have been released. Sadly, the lists are long.
Some priests and bishops have been kicked out of the church. Law enforcement authorities will be aided, if appropriate, church officials vow.
And there will be no more coverups, the Catholic hierarchy insists.
In truth, what Francis needs to accomplish is not some new written strategy, but rather an end to the seemingly endless revelations of new outrages.
One is in the news now. The Associated Press has reported that an Argentine bishop, Gustavo Zanchetta, was given breaks by the church during recent years — despite evidence he had abused seminarians. Some of that proof was obtained in 2015, the AP noted.
And in 2017, when Zanchetta resigned as bishop, he was given a high-ranking position in the Vatican — by Francis.
Yes, 2017. No plan for dealing with predators and their protectors will be enough to placate many Catholics, as long as new reports of sickening outrages continue to surface.