Cal Thomas: Mishandling abuse scandals

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Thursday, November 15th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Next up, Cal Thomas on the Catholic Church’s delay in dealing with predator priests.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: One doesn’t have to be Roman Catholic or even Christian to recognize the great good the Catholic Church has done. America would be worse off without its pro-life stance and numerous acts of charity.

But the evil of pedophile priests threatens to eclipse all the Church’s good works.

Particularly troubling is the latest statement from the Vatican regarding the sexual abuse scandal that has prompted many Catholics to leave the Church, and even the faith.

Meeting in Baltimore this week, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops had planned to discuss measures to combat abuse, including a new code of conduct for priests. But in a letter addressed to the conference, the Vatican requested U.S. bishops “wait until after the Vatican-convened global meeting on sex abuse takes place in February” to take any action.

The news seemed to take Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops, by surprise.

DINARDO: We have accepted with disappointment this particular event that took place this morning. We have not lessened any of our resolve for actions.

Is the Vatican’s edict just a question of timing, or yet another attempt to avoid dealing with the crisis?

The Church has long been reluctant to go to law enforcement about cases of sexual abuse by priests. It chose instead to have its own officials handle cases, or most often, suppress them. Church leaders moved suspected clergy from parish to parish, threatening the safety of children and continuing a pattern of depravity and neglect.

Law enforcement has a right and an obligation to investigate these cases. Where abuse can be proved, prosecutors have an equal right and obligation to hold the guilty accountable. This is not just an internal matter for the Catholic Church, which has failed to deliver on promises to purge the evil in its midst. Frequent excuses that these are old allegations do not ring true and certainly do not excuse either the behavior or the cover-up.

Pope Francis recently called climate change and nuclear war the world’s greatest threats. The greatest threats to the Catholic Church are the sexual abuse of children and the church’s failure to adequately address that abuse and hold those responsible accountable.

Why does Francis seem so reluctant to do that?

Some of the pope’s critics suggest he resign. According to canon law, no pope can be forced out. But perhaps he can be sufficiently shamed for his unwillingness to cleanse the church of the filth that has stained it. Pope Francis needs to take decisive action to begin the Church’s healing process. The sooner the better. It’s already taken far too long.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Cal Thomas.

(AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) This Dec. 1, 2012 file photo shows a silhouette of a crucifix and a stained glass window inside a Catholic Church in New Orleans.

WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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