April 07, 2005

New pope must not repeat John Paul's failure to act on abuse scandal

The News-Sentinel

Knight Ridder Newspapers

(KRT) - The legacy of Pope John Paul II is marked by triumphs and adversity, both personally as well as within the sanctuary of the church he led. Time and time again he spoke candidly of healing the deep pain caused by crimes and mistakes of the past, such as in the church's complicity in the persecution of Jews. That he sought to mend those wounds is commendable, but to truly acknowledge this pontiff's noteworthy achievements requires that we examine his own track record with similar frankness.

The charisma of Karol Wojtyla was recognized immediately upon his ascendancy to the papacy. His youth marked the intention of the church to lead Roman Catholics into the Third Millennium, and his philosophical and theological beliefs, demonstrated in his deeply spiritual defiance to Nazism and communism, framed values that were the bedrock of his leadership.

Winning the hearts and minds of young people was the special passion of this pope, and his efforts to inspire them remained a key focus of his travels across the globe.

But John Paul's concern for the young was undermined by his failure to address - and more important, to stop - the rape and molestation of children and others at the hands of those charged with carrying out the church's ministry. That failure was further exacerbated by his deputies covering up those horrific crimes, which the pope himself described as a "grave delict" against God.

In the United States particularly, the scandal has been widely documented. But it also has been pandemic in Austria, Ireland, Great Britain, Australia and other nations. We fear that it is perhaps even more widespread and devastating - if that is possible - in the developing countries of the world where John Paul spent so much of his time and compassion.

Posted by kshaw at April 7, 2005 12:24 PM