Watch out for papal candidates to start posturing on abuse. On the eve of the last conclave, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger made one brief mention, in a highly publicized talk, of “filth” in the church.
To us, it smacked of posturing. Here’s a guy with more knowledge about clergy sex crimes and cover ups than any other Catholic official on the planet. Here’s a guy with more power over clergy sex crimes and cover ups than any other Catholic official on the planet save one – his boss, the pope.
But for decades, at best, he does little. And at worst, he’s part of the cover up.
But as a papal election looms, he purports to show – via one short, vague phrase – that he cares about the crisis.
Sure enough, Cardinal Ratzinger’s strategy worked. Within days, he became Pope Benedict.
That lesson cannot have been lost on other papal hopefuls. In the days ahead, we predict some of them will make similar public remarks to reassure their colleagues that they are media savvy enough to realize they must address – at least verbally – the church’s greatest crisis.
As always, we’d urge everyone to watch their deeds, not their words. Ask yourself “what has this prelate DONE – not said – about clergy sex crimes and cover ups?” That’s the only criteria that matters.