The optimistic hopes of many Catholics about the upcoming meetings next week of Pope Francis and his eight man Cardinals’ reform committee are beginning to fade. Various new Vatican reports, leaks, etc., are playing down the meetings as very preliminary, only advisory and mostly secret. So what else is new?
Pope Francis has little time left to reform the Catholic Church. He cannot afford to procrastinate, in my considered view as an international lawyer. If he fails now , he also will likely be compelled to resign like his predecessor, ex-Pope Benedict, ignominousily had to. The Vatican’s “house of cards”, as Francis realistically described it, will then probably collapse. If that happens, Cardinal Rigali’s Secretary, Monsignor Lynn, may have some hierarchical company in prison before his sentence is completed. It’s that bad. Some hierarchs from outside Pennsylvania will likely find accomodations at their local jails.
Francis must promptly make the Church’s leaders accountable to the faithful, the Gospels and civil law, especially with respect to protecting defenseless children. He must initiate and enforce specific and effective policies to do this, before government prosecutors from Australia, Ireland, the Dominican Republic, the USA, Peru, Chile, Argentina, the Phillipines, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, or from dozens of other countries, do so for him.
Prosecutors dictated to Kansas City’s criminal, but continuing, Bishop Finn the specific policies he must follow, as nearby Federal prosecutors buried Finn’s protected pedophile priest with a 50 year prison term. Prosecutors eventually can be expected to dictate to other bishops and even to Francis himself, no matter what Francis may be advised otherwise. Government regulators are already dictating to Francis how he must manage the hierarchy’s finances. Government lawyers can, and I expect soon will, dictate to him how he must manage the hierarchy’s approach to predatory priests, if Francis fails to get effective control of the bishops’ flawed approach first. Priests may not be the pope’s “employees”; but bishops are another story.