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.

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  • George and Jean Barilla
    commented 2014-03-05 14:41:34 -0600
    I just put a link to this post on my Google+ site
  • George and Jean Barilla
    commented 2014-03-05 14:30:43 -0600
    Lani, it’s a great idea. I’m not sure how to do it. SNAP does a lot of work towards getting rid of SOLs. As for petitions, Obama’s website, “We The People” is a place to start a petition but it has to have 100,000 signatures before anyone in the administration will look at it. That many signatures may be possible if the person who created the petition is connected on twitter and facebook or other social media. I don’t have that capability. I just have my blog: I can also recommend it on Google+. If anyone else reading this post has ideas of how to start such a “grass roots” initiative, I would be glad to help.
  • Lani Halter
    commented 2014-03-05 13:52:12 -0600
    March 5, 2014
    Having been a member of SNAP for one year now, and having viewed, read and followed everything that I could about this specific “scandal” in the catholic church, I have decided that my personal current course of action now, is to encourage and “call for” the leaders of SNAP in the United States and those attorneys willingly affliated with SNAP, to please write legal petitions for U.S. members to sign and for them to get signed, that call for a referendum to vote for the abolishment of all SOL laws applied to and regarding crimes committed by pedophiles against children and disabled adults; including but not limited to crimes committed by catholic pedophile priests, heirarchy and laity in the United States and its territories. Please let us do a “grass roots campaign”, via the internet if necessary, as our current president did to get elected; to achieve this very obviously important and necessary change to both our criminal and civil laws. The scourge must be STOPPED! Surely, it must be clear to all of us now, that they, (the pope and all the other leaders of the catholic church), will not do it for us. The scourge must be STOPPED! I believe that the United States of America is a uniquely qualified place to be able to achieve at least this portion of the battle against enabled pedophiles in the catholic church. WE CAN DO IT! WE CAN DO IT HERE!!!
  • George and Jean Barilla
    commented 2013-12-30 15:59:32 -0600
    my latest blog post adds some balance to the pope’s image — telling what he is not doing. If you search Pope Francis on Google on the first page is a link to the post:
    Pope Francis creates sex abuse commission: “Long overdue” says …

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