Pope Francis Catholic Church Sexual Abuse

Pope Francis I Catholic Church Sexual Abuse
Cardinal Jose Maria Bergoglio of Argentina has been elected by the College of Cardinals as the next pope. It was announced from the balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica Wednesday evening. He will take the name of Francis and is the 266th pontiff of the Catholic Church.
Bergolio’s selection came at the end of the first full day of the conclave and was sealed on only the fifth ballot. It would indicate that the College of Cardinals was in agreement but came as a surprise to many outsiders. Going into the conclave Bergoglio wasn’t considered to be one of the favorites, in spite of being the rumored as the runner-up in the 2005 conclave that elected Pope Benedict.
Formally the Bishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio will be the first non-European pope and seen as a nod to the growing significance of the church in the global south. In 2001 Archbishop Bergolio was elevated to Cardinal by Pope John Paul II, and began serving as an administrator of the Roman Curia – the administrative apparatus of the entire Catholic Church – which operates out of the Vatican.
The new pope inherits a Catholic Church mired in turmoil, much of it made worse by his predecessor pope Benedict. One of the first things Pope Francis must face is a sexual abuse crisis that has undermined the church’s moral authority around the globe.
As the College of Cardinals convened there were charges being brought against pedophile priests on every continent the Catholic Church operates. While the Vatican continues to downplay the crisis, new allegations emerge almost daily. Even during the conclave Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the archbishop of Scotland, was forced to resign amidst allegations of improper sexual relations going back 30 years.
On the same day Pope Francis was named, Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles was receiving fresh attention for his role in the cover-up of sexual abuse by priests. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to pay a total of nearly $10 million to settle four child sex abuse cases brought against them. There is stark evidence that while he was bishop there, Mahoney helped a confessed pedophile priest evade law enforcement by sending him out of state to a church-run treatment center, then placing the priest back in the Los Angeles ministry.
Surveys of American Catholics reveal that they see sex abuse as the biggest problem facing the Catholic Church. Under Benedict the Church’s handling of the sex abuse scandals was cloaked in secrecy, and the impact was disastrous. In Europe, South America, and in the United States thousands of young men and women were victimized, and millions of dollars have been paid in settlements. This great tragedy is far from over.
As Cardinal, Bergoglio gave only three interviews, as Pope Francis he will be forced into the public spotlight. Until now the church’s reaction to the scandal has been entirely reactionary and relied on downplaying accusations or by using religion to bludgeon critics.
It is a pivotal moment for the church. The new pope must speak publically about the issue if he is serious about changing the church and putting an end to this epidemic of sexual abuse. Remaining dedicated to the Church’s current conservative principles will ignore the suffering of the victims and only allow this horrible tragedy to continue.