Pope Under Fire

The sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church began about fifteen years ago. I live in Pennsylvania where last week a Grand Jury released a 1,356 page scathing report on the tragedy.

The Pennsylvania Grand Jury:

“We subpoenaed, and reviewed, half a million pages of internal diocesan documents. They contained credible allegations against over three hundred predator priests. Over one thousand child victims were identifiable, from the church’s own records. We believe that the real number – of children whose records were lost, or who were afraid ever to come forward – is in the thousands.”

The Pope:

The Pope himself is now accused of turning a blind eye to a sexual predator.

Archbishop Carlo Viganò, the Church’s former chief diplomat in the United States, wrote a letter explaining that Pope Francis and other Vatican officials were involved in covering up sexual abuse committed by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

An ABC World News Tonight report on the controversy infuriated me. At the end of his segment, the reporter said, “Some of these things are questions that only the Pope can answer. But who has the authority to ask him?”


Who has the authority to ask the Pope about unethical or immoral behavior!? Any 12 year old Catholic in the world, that’s who!

He may choose to ignore the question. Which is exactly what the Pope did.

This post concerns the dangers and responsibilities of authority, not the accusation against Pope Francis. 

Enduring distance between leaders and followers always ends badly. Standing aloof is never healthy. The trappings of authority facilitate the privileges and abuses of positional authority.

The trappings of authority protect leaders from responsibility and accountability. It’s easy to make ourselves exempt from the expectations and standards of all the “regular” people around us.

Leaders must model ALL the behaviors expected of others. Personal exemption is evil.