Pope’s toleration of sex abuse leaves a stain
This editorial ran in the Washington Post:
Pope Francis, who pledged a policy of “zero tolerance” for sexually abusive clergy in the Catholic Church, has turned out to be all too tolerant. Last week, Australian police brought criminal charges against Cardinal George Pell, a top Vatican official and kitchen-cabinet adviser to the pope, for multiple alleged incidents of sexual assault.
The charges against Cardinal Pell, the Vatican’s finance chief and the pope’s hand-picked agent of administrative reform, shook the Holy See, notwithstanding long-standing allegations that he ignored, dismissed and excused cases of sexual misconduct during his pre-Vatican years as a priest and church official in Australia. That included the crimes of a notorious pedophile priest with whom Cardinal Pell shared a house for two years in the 1970s.
Cardinal Pell, 76, who denied the sexual assault charges, was granted a leave of absence to return to Australia, where he said he would contest the charges.
Pope Francis has achieved some important reforms, notably in steering the church toward a more enlightened view of homosexuals. But by now it’s clear that a muscular, unequivocal and truly “zero tolerance” stance against pedophile priests and their enablers is not a priority for him.
Again and again, the pope’s deeds on clergy sex abuse have not matched his words, and real accountability throughout the church has been lacking. By his tolerance, Pope Francis ensures that the disgrace of clergy sex abuse will continue to be a stain on the Catholic Church.