New York Times
September 13, 2018
It’s long past time for penitence and promises on clerical pedophilia. Pope Francis must act.
Pope Francis has summoned senior bishops from around the world for the first global gathering of Roman Catholic leaders to address the crisis of clerical pedophilia. The action is long overdue, and the outcome cannot be yet more apologies and pledges of better behavior. The unending revelations of clerical sexual abuse and cover-ups demand radical, public, convincing systemic change.
The latest barrage of revelations and developments — including a gut-wrenching report by a grand jury in Pennsylvania detailing seven decades of sexual abuse of at least 1,000 children, and probably thousands more, by more than 300 Catholic priests — has left no question that Pope Francis’ legacy will be decided by how he confronts this crisis. It is devouring the Roman church — erasing trust in its hierarchs, dismaying the faithful and blackening its image. To be meaningful, any further response must include openly addressing allegations that the pope was himself party to a cover-up.
The president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, met with the pope on Thursday to demand a full investigation into how the former archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick, rose to high rank despite a long and apparently well-known history of sexual predation. As if to underscore the importance of the meeting, it coincided with an announcement that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of a bishop in West Virginia, Michael Bransfield, and ordered an investigation into allegations that he had sexually harassed adults.