Saturday, March 9, 2013

What's really needed from the next pope

Yeah, sure, ex-priest Brian Frawley's lesson from corporate America is well taken: the Catholic Church needs a pope with "the vision thing," as George Bush, Sr. named it, dismissively, not just a competent insider who knows how the Church machine works.

Others are saying the Church needs an African pope, or a Latin American pope.

But Frawley and others are ignoring the elephant in the room: decades of sexual abuse by priests.  The Church's cover-ups in the U.S. have already irreparably harmed the Church's standing there. The scandal is just starting to be uncovered in Europe. And it is still under wraps in Latin America and the rest of the world. You can bet victims there will be coming forward for decades.

A recent Pew poll of U.S. Catholics found that 34 percent named sex abuse and pedophilia among priests as the Church's most urgent issue. No other issue even broke double digits. 

There are about 70 million Catholics in the U.S., about 23 percent of the U.S. population. Only Brazil (127 million), Mexico (96 million) and the Philippines (76 million) have more Catholics than the U.S. 

So this should be a wake-up call for the Vatican. The next pope should start by turning over to law enforcement authorities every bit of evidence it has about priests who engaged in sexual abuse, starting with the U.S.. The Vatican should adopt a zero-tolerance policy for abuse and a mechanism for easy reporting of abuse, proper follow-up, and outside/third-party reviews of all reports of abuse. Just for starters.

In other words, the next pope's top priority must be to clean out the Church's stalls. This is in the Church's own best interests, although the old guys in charge seem to believe just the opposite. In fact everything else is just window dressing. 

By Brian Frawley
March 8, 2013 | CNN

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