Pope’s tol­er­a­tion of sex abuse leaves a stain

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

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.

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