Religion News Service
By Josephine McKenna
VATICAN CITY (RNS) As the Vatican reeled from news that one of its top officials was taking a leave to fight historical sex abuse charges in Australia, the spotlight quickly turned to Pope Francis, with his critics slamming him for failing to do enough to tackle the vexing issue.
Cardinal George Pell, the most senior figure in church history to face child sex abuse charges, is the Vatican’s financial czar and a trusted adviser to the pope.
Pell, 76, is facing “multiple charges in respect of historic sexual offences,” said police in the Australian state of Victoria. …
“There is a deep disconnect between the pope’s words and his actions,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of the advocacy group Bishop Accountability.
Barrett Doyle was critical of the pope for keeping Pell in his post until now, despite knowledge of the allegations against him.
“The pope is not a reformer when it comes to the crisis,” she said. “He apologizes often and uses buzz phrases like ‘zero tolerance.’ But underneath he remains the minimizer and the defender of accused priests.”
Robert Mickens, an American editor for the French Catholic magazine La Croix, said it was significant that Pell had stepped aside but he criticized the pope’s record on clerical abuse.
“Whether Pell specifically asked for a leave from his Vatican duties to return for the trial, or whether the pope ordered him to do so, the effect is the same. And it is a development from the past,” Mickens said, when the church would have defended Vatican churchmen.
But Mickens said Francis has never made the church’s sexual abuse crisis a priority of his administration.
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