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.

Blaine, who died in 2017, was sexually assaulted by her parish priest for four years, starting when she was 13. She was 29 when she read Jason Berry’s reports of priestly abuse in Lou...

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  • Richard Kensinger, MSW
    commented 2019-02-21 10:55:00 -0600
    The Church indeed behaves as a global corporation that is “too big to jail and too big to fail”. I have divorced this Church and continue to advocate much more transparency from the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese. This PA diocese was one of the first two that were investigated. 46 of the 50 named predators are clergy. This diocese initiated a victim compensation fund in 1999; and has paid for victim silence to the tune of $21M. It is also now under federal investigation which I totally support!
    Rich, MSW
  • Marti Williams
    commented 2019-02-20 16:58:08 -0600
    Thank ’you,
  • William Bennett
    commented 2019-02-20 12:57:02 -0600
    This situation with the Church is overwhelming, so much so that it brings me to question its integrity going back many centuries. It seems that not only was the
    Church a business, but a fraudulent one at that. It dictated such strict adherence to it laws and at the same time had its own rules for itself. I think
    everyone who was abused is a saint and God bless the world for Barbara Blaine.
  • William Bennett
    commented 2019-02-20 12:57:02 -0600
    This situation with the Church is overwhelming, so much so that it brings me to question its integrity going back many centuries. It seems that not only was the
    Church a business, but a fraudulent one at that. It dictated such strict adherence to it laws and at the same time had its own rules for itself. I think
    everyone who was abused is a saint and God bless the world for Barbara Blaine.
  • Richard Kensinger, MSW
    commented 2019-02-20 11:43:10 -0600
    I too am quite skeptical of the Church’s efforts to alleviate over time this persisting and pervasive criminal behavior. All who are living who commit these crimes need to be prosecuted and incarcerated for much longer sentences than
    presently meted out. Typically they are imprisoned about 2 to 4 yrs.
    Rich, MSW

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