Action Alert!

Oh, good. In February the Pope might make a statement about abuse

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Dec 10, 2018

Give John Allen credit for honesty, in his analysis (for Crux) of what we can expect from the February meeting at the Vatican to discuss the sex-abuse crisis. Not much:

Almost by definition, Americans are likely to be frustrated with what may seem the scant results of the February meeting.

It will be a short meeting, Allen observes, and the agenda is restricted. A large number of the participating bishops are still not convinced that this really is a crisis. Dramatic action is unlikely.

But don’t despair, Allen counsels readers; some good could come from the meeting:

Well, for one thing, the meeting gives Francis a chance to deliver an unequivocal message that clerical sexual abuse is a universal problem, one that requires the participation of the Church at all levels to resolve.

Wait a minute. Now the Pope has a chance to make a statement?

Twenty-three years after Gilber Gauthe’s guilty plea, eighteen years after Cardinal Groër’s resignation, sixteen years after the Boston Globe exposé, nine years after the Murphy Commission report in Ireland, eight years after the police raid on Belgian bishops’ headquarters, five years after the creation of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, nine months after the entire Chilean hierarchy resigned, seven months after the McCarrick revelations, now there’s a chance to send a message?

And what would that message be? What could the Pope say, that hasn’t already been said? There’s no shortage of statements, from Pope Francis and others, about the need to crack down on clerical abuse. What’s lacking is action. And Allen is honest enough to tell us that we shouldn’t expect action in February.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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