New York Times
Victims and their advocates are understandably skeptical about Pope Francis’ latest plan for disciplining bishops who schemed for years to protect abusive priests in the church’s devastating pedophilia scandal.
The pope dropped last year’s plan to create a special tribunal to investigate offending bishops. Instead, last week, he handed the task to existing Vatican agencies, accompanied by a personal order to investigate and remove diocesan leaders found guilty of engaging in cover-ups.
The fief-like powers of bishops, plus the Vatican’s failure to act, made cover-ups possible. After Francis became pope, he promised that the Vatican would do more to address a scandal that, as the news media revealed, had reached staggering proportions.
In the United States alone, where more than 700 priests were eventually dismissed, no bishops were punished by Rome as the scandal unfolded. This despite an investigation by lay leaders who warned “there must be consequences” for those who provided refuge for priests accused of raping schoolchildren, which often meant that the accused priests were shifted from parish to parish.