Editorial: Pope lowers sex abuse expectations |

Editorial: Pope lowers sex abuse expectations

Pope Francis leaves at the end of his general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Sept. 12, 2018.

Pope Francis thinks hopes are too high for a planned February summit on preventing sexual abuse.

In a disaster movie, this is the point where the bureaucratic pencil pusher won’t give the hero the support he needs to keep bad from becoming calamitous. It is the mayor not closing the beach in “Jaws.” It is the police deciding Bruce Willis was a prank caller in “Die Hard.” It is the captain deciding to go faster through the ice field in “Titanic.”

It’s the point where you could change course and prevent everything that happens afterwards.

“Let me say that I’ve sensed somewhat inflated expectations,” he said to reporters as he returned from Panama. “We have to deflate the expectations to these three points, because the problem of abuse will continue. It’s a human problem.”

The three points? Sensitizing to the pain of victims, teaching how to investigate reported cases and developing a plan for everyone to use, according to the Associated Press.

If possible, this seems worse. In the event of any disaster or personal tragedy, people are frequently encouraged to turn to a spiritual leader for comfort, but the Vicar of Christ is saying Catholic church leaders can’t understand the pain suffered by victims of sexual abuse by priests.

And as to investigation and a comprehensive strategy? It seems the church knows exactly what to do and made a corporal decision to do exactly the opposite. Across dioceses. Across nations. Across time.

It is beyond sick and more than sad that, amid plans to address this crisis, Francis’s words seem to be a verbal shrug. It’s going to happen anyway, they appear to suggest, so let’s work on a checklist of responses.

Yes, sexual abuse is a human problem, but investigations like that of the Pennsylvania Attorney General show something more than abuse has happened within the Catholic church. It is the difference between a street corner drug dealer and a cartel.

A large part of the church’s work for centuries has been standing opposed to human problems no matter how insurmountable and declaring those problems to be against God. Why hold up a hand against capital punishment and abortion but respond to your own demons with what amounts to “these things happen?”

Expectations weren’t too high. Expectations were “don’t rape our children.” But miraculously, the pope may have lowered them.