By John L. Allen Jr.
Associate editor March 27, 2015
Staffers in the Vatican paid to think about such things sometimes sit around trying to identify possible tipping points in the public romance with Pope Francis, meaning a calamity that might put a serious dent in his high approval ratings.
One no-brainer on the list would be a perception that he’s backtracking on “zero tolerance” when it comes to sexual abuse in the Church, and two recent story lines suggest it’s not an abstract worry.
First, Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press reported on Thursday that five members of the pope’s own anti-abuse commission have expressed “concern and incredulity” that Bishop Juan Barros has been given command of the Diocese of Osorno in Chile, despite his public record of defending the country’s most notorious abuser priest.
Those objections came on top of protests that forced Barros’ installation Mass to be cut short, as well as ongoing efforts by clergy and laity to ask Francis to rethink the appointment.
Second, an Argentine woman named Julieta Añazco, who alleges abuse by a priest in the La Plata archdiocese more than 30 years ago, recently said that she sent a letter to Francis asking for his help, but has not received a response.
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