On 20 February I wrote an entry called Wherein Fr. Z makes a suggestion to Cardinal Electors
I propose to Their Eminences that it could be better to elect someone whose record on clerical sexual abuse we know a lot about.
Otherwise, in this media age, the next Pope’s pontificate could be hobbled from the starting gate.
In some countries, such as these USA, Ireland, Canada, a little bit in some European countries, the press has been crawling all over diocesan bishops for years and a great deal has been exposed to the light of day.
This has not yet occurred in the “emerging” Churches, such as in The Philippines or Brazil.
In fact, has it happened yet even in Italy?
If a cardinal from one of these places is elected, it will happen a lot faster wherever they have served.
Today I read a couple stories which have to do with this matter.
At the Catholic News Agency:
Cardinal O’Malley Lists Sex Abuse, Curia Reform as Priorities
Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley listed clerical sex abuse, reforming the Church’s administration and Christian persecution as some of the issues he thinks the next Pope will have to tackle.
“The new Pope will also need to face the sexual abuse crisis that is really worrying our people,” he stated in a March 4 interview with CNA.
He lists other priorities, too.
At the Catholic News Service, Cardinal George: Next pope must embrace zero tolerance for sex abuse
The next pope must be “very aware” of the need for vigilance in preventing clergy sex abuse and accept a policy of “zero tolerance” as the universal law of the church, said Chicago’s Cardinal Francis E. George.
Asked if he would consider a candidate’s approach to “sexual misconduct by clergy” when choosing the next pope, Cardinal George said “that will be an important issue” because sex abuse is a “terrible wound on the body of the church.”
“Whoever’s elected pope,” the cardinal said, “obviously has to accept the universal code of the church now, which is zero tolerance for anyone who has ever abused a minor child, (who) therefore may not remain in public ministry in the church. So that has to be accepted.”
“I think that will not be a problem,” he added. “There’s a deep-seated conviction, certainly on the part of anyone who’s a pastor in a diocese, that this has to be continually addressed.”
The cardinal noted that U.S. bishops lobbied to make their own zero-tolerance policy part of the church’s canon law and convinced bishops’ conferences in other countries, such as India, to adopt similar norms.
Although the “incidence of abuse is practically zero right now as far as we can tell,” the cardinal said, “there are still the victims. And the wound, therefore, is deep in their hearts and minds very often, and as long as it’s with them it’s with all of us, and that will last for a long time. So the next pope has to be very aware of this.”
This will surely be a matter of discussion in the congregations, sitting rooms, and the conclave.