Editorial: Church Must Keep Clergy Sex-Abuse Reforms on Track

National Catholic Register

January 26, 2018

EDITORIAL: What is needed is a sensitive, transparent and systematic response to credible allegations.

Pope Francis’ pledge to protect the Church from sexual predators and hold negligent bishops accountable rightly earned him praise early in his pontificate. He inherited a foundation of reforms first crafted under Pope Benedict XVI, including the Church’s stern zero-tolerance policy against abusers, clear legal processes for handling abuse cases, and a powerful willingness to meet with victims around the world.

But recent events suggest that Francis is on a steep learning curve in furthering these efforts. Victims’ advocates have been alarmed by his failure to secure his own reform initiatives, including a proposed tribunal for bishops accused of abuse or negligence that was scrapped in 2017. Critics have also pointed to the Pope’s decision to intervene in some high-profile cases and his inconsistent response to Church leaders accused of covering up abuse.

In January, public scrutiny of the Pope’s handling of abuse cases came to a head during his apostolic visit to Chile. On the eve of his arrival, a 2015 papal letter to the Chilean bishops’ conference was leaked to the media.

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