Last week, Pope Francis met with representative leaders of the American Church in order to discuss the ongoing sexual abuse scandal in the United States.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, indicated that the meeting had been fruitful: “We are grateful to the Holy Father for receiving us in audience. We shared with Pope Francis our situation in the United States — how the Body of Christ is lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse. He listened very deeply from the heart. It was a lengthy, fruitful, and good exchange.”
Time will tell what practical steps will be taken as the outgrowth of this meeting and how the Church in the United States will be concretely affected by them. One indication of hope is that Pope Francis has called for a world-wide meeting of the leaders of bishops’ conferences to be held in February in order to discuss the sexual abuse of minors. Again, while it is unclear what this meeting will accomplish practically, the Pope’s recognition of the severity and unavoidability of the questions being raised now, and how deserving they are of meaningful answers, is a most welcome sign.
As we watch and wait in hope, we also continue to commit ourselves to the daily practice of our faith, concrete acts of justice and charity, and our pledge to heal the wounds that have lacerated Christ’s Body, the Church. No one should relish this scandal and it should not be weaponized in service to any ideology. Making the commitment to be agents of healing — first and foremost for the victims, as well as for those whose faith has been shaken by the sins of Church leaders — is a good place to begin.