Sinead O’Connor has written a searing editorial in the washingtonpost.com criticizing the Pope for what has happened and what is being done with regards to the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic church. Regardless how you feel about this issue, it is a remarkably well written piece and deserves a reading for many reasons.
One of those reasons is an aside, but a worthwhile one. O’Connor was sent to a Magdalene laundry for 18 months when she was younger. I only had a vague idea what this was. Not only did I learn more about them in this wikipedia article, but that article itself was well worthwhile reading, especially in light of everything.
(Photo of Magdalene Laundry in England, early 20th century, from wikipedia)
On the sex abuse scandal and what can the Pope do? Rod Dreher at beliefnet offers this advice:
I think the best thing he can do now — indeed, possibly the only sensible thing — is to admit any role he had in transferring priests and failing to do the right thing by sex abuse victims. Explain these decisions in context of the times and the culture, but overall don’t be defensive, but rather be humble. Confess all, and be publicly penitent. Many people will scream condemnation at the pope and the Church, and much of that will have been deserved. But I think men and women of goodwill will appreciate a genuine attempt to come to terms with this evil situation, not by denying and stonewalling, but by admitting and asking forgiveness. The pope already has uttered some extraordinary words of regret, but I think people are looking for something more.
I think this advice makes sense for American public officials. The American people are more expectant and accepting of leaders who go this route.
But the Pope is not an American official. And what might be acceptible for Americans may not be acceptible for European, South American, African or Asian Catholics. I would say that such a confession might wreck more damage to the Catholic church as an institution than stonewalling will. That doesn’t make stonewalling right, but it is something to consider in watching the behavior of the Pope and the Church.
I also believe that people who think the Pope is going to resign are looking at the Pope as a politician — which he is — and not as a Pope in a long line of Popes. Switching Popes is a big deal. Plus I think Benedict has wanted to be Pope for a very long time. Given that, there will be lots of steps that will be taken before resignation occurs.
I am surprised with how little people comment on the timing of Obama’s agenda. It’s not haphazard. The first thing up was financial stabilization. That was a given. But what could have been done, but wasn’t, was the reining in of the financial sector. Instead, what he went after next was health care. That was the toughest item on his agenda, which meant he needed as much time and as much support in Congress as he could get, and that mean he had to do it before elections in Congress come up, because it is almost a given that the Democrats are going to lose seats and it is going to be even tougher to get progressive bills through like health care. I think that’s one of the reasons financial regulation was put on hold. But now, financial regulation is coming up. Given that the banks are stable, it is easier to try and rein them in. Even if the Democrats can’t due to Republican opposition, they can take that opposition and run against the Republicans on that and health care, whose benefits Americans should be seeing in the next year.
Other big items will come after that, including climate change and immigration reform. On immigration reform, opposition from the Republicans may not be as uniform as it was on health care. Running against immigration reform will only help Obama when we runs again for reelection. Likewise with climate control.
Finally, given how depressed the American economy is now, it can only get better, and likely in a dramatic way, before the time Obama has to run again. That will help him most of all.
His biggest challenge will be what major initiatives he wants to tackle in his second term.