Opinion: Catholics’ faith in Francis is misplaced

The Boston Globe

January 29, 2018

By Margery Eagan

HERE’S A SAFE BET: Even if a day arrives when the Catholic Church is pure, none of us will live to see it. So maybe Catholics should stop looking for saints among its leaders.

On Jan. 18, Francis took a sledgehammer to millions who’d misplaced saintly hope in him. He went to Chile and called priestly sex abuse survivors liars.

What happened?

This was the Francis who ditched the papal apartment, rode around in a tiny Fiat, kissed prisoners’ feet, focused on the poor, refugees, the planet, forgiveness, mercy — not the typical Catholic focus on anything to do with sex.

Wowed, we talked of “The Francis Effect.” Jaded Catholics returned to Mass, risking uninspired preaching because, well, Francis inspired. Plus, to paraphrase Hebrews, there is ever that yearning to find proof of things unseen.

There had long been signs that Francis didn’t really “get” the sex abuse mess. But nothing confirmed it like Chile, when he said he needed proof that Bishop Juan Barros had covered up crimes. Otherwise, multiple survivors’ claims were “calumny.”

For Americans, the timing was ghastly: in the midst of the #MeToo moment and of 156 gymnasts detailing in court gross abuse by a trusted physician. At least one was only six when her horror began. So was the little boy whom priest Paul Shanley, protected by Cardinal Bernard Law, repeatedly plucked from Sunday school to take to a bathroom and then rape.

So we are back to the dark days, asking, again, how to remain a Catholic?

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