How the pope can spur reform — recognize SNAP leader Barbara Blaine as a saint
Pope Francis signaled last week that even high-ranking prelates can face punishment for sexual abuse. The Vatican threw former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick out of the priesthood, because of his sexual abuse of minors and other crimes.
But that gesture does not address the other part of the problem: the church’s long-standing cover-up of credible abuse allegations. Indeed, some critics are skeptical that a four-day sexual abuse summit of bishops in Rome beginning Thursday will produce concrete reforms. Others worry that the event could be used to declare war on gay priests.
On his flight back to Rome from Panama last month, the Pope told reportersthat expectations for the Rome meeting were “somewhat inflated,” adding that “the problem of abuse will continue” because it is “a human problem.” The pope, who requested prayers for the meeting’s success, may face resistance to reform from some of his own prelates.
But he could take one positive step on his own: He could ask the church to consider whether abuse survivor and activist Barbara Blaine merits recognition as a saint.
I got to know Blaine when I interviewed her for my book, “Catholic Women Confront Their Church.” She was tall and slender, dressed in a suit whose neutral tones complimented her fair skin and light brown hair. Her warmth and generosity were evident, despite the trauma she had suffered.