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Laity must play oversight role in reform of the Catholic Church

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On February 21, Pope Francis and the presidents of the world’s Episcopal Conferences will converge on the Vatican for a summit to address sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The world will be watching, most especially survivors of clergy sexual abuse, who deserve both justice for the crimes committed against them and pastoral support as they continue a lifetime process of healing. Public officials, notably law enforcement, and the Catholic faithful will also watch to see if the church is sincere and capable of addressing this tragic issue. It is difficult to imagine that concrete universal norms will emerge from this gathering, given the diversity of cultures and perspectives that will be represented at this meeting, along with the signal being sent from Rome itself that expectations for outcomes should not be high.

Thus far, the bishops’ response to the crisis has been incomplete. The faithful and the clergy have lost trust in the ability of their shepherds to lead. The ongoing crisis in the United States has revealed that the church must not only address sexual abuse, but also the bishops’ abuse of power. The Pennsylvania grand jury report, with its limitations, and the revelations regarding former archbishop Theodore McCarrick demonstrated that this issue transcends sexual abuse of minors; it........

© Boston Globe