Amid more revelations of abuse, Catholic church culture must change

Pope Francis took precisely the correct attitude in his letter responding to a grand jury investigation of sexual abuse by priests in Pennsylvania.

The missive admitted that too many in the Roman Catholic church “showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.”

Since it was released recently, the grand jurors’ report has made headlines worldwide.

It has been the topic of conversation everywhere, including in churches of all denominations.

For decades, more than 300 “predator priests” in the Keystone State were accused credibly of abusing more than 1,000 children, the grand jurors found.

Frequently, church superiors — and even law enforcement authorities — shielded the priests.

It was not the first evidence of widespread abuses and coverups within the Roman Catholic church.

There have been others.

There will be more.

It is sad and disturbing in the extreme to recognize that no locale is immune to sexual abuse of children by those in positions of authority, whether they be civil or religious.

No one can say with conviction that, “It didn’t happen here.”

Pope Francis was right, then, to emphasize two points in his letter. “Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient,” he wrote.

But, he added, repentance must be accompanied by reform.

“Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated.”

Precisely.

And we believe that culture must include allowing male Catholic priests to marry if they so choose, and allowing female priests, married or single, if they so choose.

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