From Evasion to Conversion


January 30, 2019

By Austen Ivereigh

“Pope Lowers Expectations for Next Month’s Sex Abuse Summit”—the Associated Press headline may not have been heart-lifting, but it was fair. During Pope Francis’s flight back from Panama on January 27, he had told reporters that “we have to deflate the expectations” surrounding the bishops’ first global summit on clerical sex abuse, which is to take place at the Vatican between February 20 and February 24.

Francis described the summit as essentially a “catechesis”: to make church leaders across the world aware of the pain of victims, and their obligations to act against abuser priests, as well as to hear survivors’ testimonies and to pray, penitentially, for the church’s failures. But three days is not a long time, and no one is expecting a revolution. “The problem of abuse will continue,” Francis assured reporters. “It’s a human problem.” No one should be expecting the pope to pull a new solution out of a top hat.

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