The Pope's popularity-What does it mean?
A new poll shows most people really like Pope Francis.
So what does that mean?
I suspect it means we like it when
--famous people show humility
--royal figures act like regular folks
--people who often scold us stop scolding us
--hope seems to spring up where hope has long been missing, and
--we are distracted from horrific, seemingly intractable scandals by touching or reassuring or surprising gestures.
And what does the pope’s popularity mean for children?
At best, probably nothing. At worst, it’s probably somewhat hurtful.
Why? Because as long as the pope gets accolades for seeming or being kind and gentle, he’s more apt to continue to be kind and gentle. And to protect kids by stopping clergy sex crimes and cover ups, Pope Francis has to be the opposite of kind and gentle. He has to be tough on his bishops who are enabling predator priests, nuns, brothers, seminarians and bishops.
That's what Benedict didn't do. That's what John Paul didn't do. That's what no Catholic official on the planet has done or is doing.
That's the missing ingredient - harsh consequences for men who help predators hide evidence and flee overseas and keep their collars and paychecks. Very rarely do secular officials impose such consequences on enablers (see Bishop Robert Finn and Msgr. William Lynn). Even more rarely do church officials impose such consequences (and when they do, it’s always in the most oblique ways).
Until that changes, until those who destroy evidence and stonewall prosecutors and deceive parishioners are severely and publicly and clearly punished, this crisis continues, no matter how much adoration the pope generates.
And speaking of polls, let’s not forget that another recent one found that the on-going clergy sex crimes and cover ups are the top priority that US Catholics want the pope to address and that 2/3s of them believe Pope Benedict did a “fair” or “poor” job in dealing with the crisis.