The Federalist: Pope Francis administered a stunning and humiliating shock to the bishops of the Catholic Church in the United States last week. The American bishops had gathered in Baltimore to discuss a pair of measures to deal with the continuing crisis over clerical sexual abuses in this country.
The measures were fairly modest. One sought to build on the 2002 “Dallas charter” — measures designed to stop priests’ abuse of children, mostly young boys — by extending its rules on reporting and accountability to bishops. The other would have launched an investigation, led by lay Catholics, into reports of abuses by bishops. Conceivably, this would have looked into how former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., could have risen to the top of the U.S. Catholic hierarchy, despite being widely known — in secular circles, to the Vatican, and to many in the church — as being a serial abuser and harasser of young adult male seminarians (and at least one young boy).
The night before the conference, the pope abruptly quashed both measures. The bishops were left reeling, and lay Catholics were stunned and dismayed. For some, it may even be the last straw: If their church will not deal honestly with these issues, they will leave it.
Francis’ pretext was that a Vatican summit in February would address these matters “globally.” It then emerged that Francis, despite the outcry of American Catholics for action, had tried to get the entire meeting cancelled. more