Pope Francis waited as long as he could – especially when courage was not the option he would choose.
From the beginning he kept his distance, even when pushed by the phantom commission of one of the Council of Eight Cardinals, Sean O’Malley — especially when the survivors were not the ones around whom he would circle the wagons.
He waited as long as he could to address sexual abuse – especially since his personality and style reviews have been boffo.
But he must be given this, he does have a sense of timing.
At the one year mark, he knew the string had run out.
It was just a matter of how to do it.
He chose to walk into his declaration of how the largest crisis in the Roman Catholic Church in 500 years will be handled in his papacy through the lead of a reporter’s question – and he was smart enough to let the reporter shape the backdrop against which he spoke.
Here is the excerpt from the English translation of the interview Pope Francis gave to the Italian daily Corriere della Sera:
Question: The scandals that rocked the life of the Church are fortunately in the past. A public appeal was made to you, on the delicate theme of the abuse of minors, published by (the Italian newspaper) Il Foglio and signed by Besancon and Scruton, among others, that you would raise your voice and make it heard against the fanaticisms and the bad conscience of the secularized world that hardly respects infancy.
Answer: I want to say two things. The cases of abuses are terrible because they leave extremely deep wounds. Benedict XVI was very courageous and he cleared a path. The Church has done so much on this path. Perhaps more than anyone. The statistics on the phenomenon of the violence against children are shocking, but they also show clearly that the great majority of abuses take place in the family environment and around it. The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution to have acted with transparency and responsibility. No other has done
Like it or not, and in this space we do not like it, he is clear: he has chosen clerics over children.
The Church is the victim, unfairly attacked and, and doesn’t have as many perpetrators “as the family environment and around it” has.
There you have it.
The wait is over.
We are not as bad as them. That’s the answer from the man who has unfettered power in the Roman Catholic Church.
When a blind spot becomes the full windshield through which the road is seen, when the elephant in the room is given permanent residence, when the third papacy since the Boston incarnation of the scandal’s revelations decides that the status quo will be the status, then style has triumphed substance and we have all arrived back where we began – in the same ongoing crucifixion of innocence.
In light of this, we ask that you re-double your efforts in any and all areas in which you support survivors.
The need is great.
The time is now.
The cavalry is not coming.
— Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition, NSAC, KristineWard@hotmail.com
Here is the link to the full transcript: