Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington – with Pope Francis in 2015 – has pulled out of the World Meeting of Families where he had been invited as keynote speaker
[Cardinal Wuerl’s] no-show adds additional pressure on Francis to tackle the abuse scandals head on while he’s in a country which, arguably, has been more scarred by them than any other place in the world.
The problem for the Church isn’t really the crime, it’s the cover-up.
Sixteen years since the crisis first erupted in the U.S., almost ten years since that happened in Ireland, and now more than five years since Francis was elected, the Catholic Church still has no credible, transparent process for handling cases when the accusation against a bishop isn’t the direct commission of abuse but rather covering up someone else’s crimes.
Francis has taken tentative steps in that direction, but to date they’ve remained largely a dead letter.
The central lesson of the Wuerl drama may be precisely this: In the absence of a mechanism to pursue these cover-up claims, it’s the worst of both worlds.
Bishops who really did drop the ball aren’t held accountable, and those whose reputations have been unjustly smeared have no recourse to defend themselves.
Perhaps it’s premature to expect that Francis’s trip to Ireland in one week’s time will bring definitive answers as to how to build such a system.
Yet if the pope simply acknowledges it’s the right question to be asking, that could strike many people here and elsewhere as progress.
Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Promotional materiel advertising the preparatory Pastoral Congress at the World Meeting of Families 2018. which starts on Wednesday and will discuss issues ahead of the Pope’s visit at the weekend.
Earlier: You Can Feel The Excitement