With a heavy heart, Pope Francis courageously stood behind the podium to face 190 male prelates. He finally addressed the Church’s decades-long issue of child abuse. The result was disappointing.

I implore the reader to open his mind to new perspectives before reading on. If you are religious, acknowledge that I will only respect your right believe and not your beliefs themselves. Nothing, not even religion, can be guarded on a pedestal and not be held accountable for the evil that exists because of it, regardless of whether the evil was committed in its name or as a result of its practices.

The Pope should be applauded for raising the issue of pastoral child abuse to the global stage for the first time. However, his solution is flimsy and is as spineless as the abusive preachers themselves who he is trying to combat. The Pope proposed 21 ‘reflection points’ that are nothing more than a half-step toward a true solution.

Pastoral child abuses are clearly not committed by clergymen in the name of Christianity. It can even be argued that the crimes are committed in spite of Christianity, by predators who take advantage of the Christian clerical structure and belief system. However, it is statistical nonsense to believe that this is the case for the majority. The deplorable state of life in celibacy that the faiths of sincere clergymen force them to live is catalyst for “sin,” in religious terms. It is clear that clergymen “fall into temptation” because of a few Bible verses that were loosely interpreted to mean that they must refrain from legally satisfying their perfectly human need for sex.

There is no quick and easy solution to the problem. The Pope’s failure to draft a concrete plan of action is reason to believe that the Vatican conference will just as well not produce concrete results in the future. I can be proven wrong by the actions that might be taken by the Catholic institutions in nations around the world. The consequent conviction of Cardinal George Pell, one of the Pope’s top aides, is an optimistic hint of justice to come. However, if the Pope’s 21 reflection points prove to be ineffective, as I predict them to be, it should be taken as a call to action. Pastoral child abuse is the biggest moral issue that the Church has faced since the selling of plenary indulgences in the 16th century, and requires a solution on the scale of the reformation.

Should the Church be reformed again?

The national police serves the essential function of preventing lawlessness and criminality. The government exists to keep us away from life in the state of nature that is “nasty, brutish and short,” as Hobbes put it. The police and the government are necessary institutions and therefore deserve to be reformed should they fall into immorality and corruption. In contrast, a second reformation of the Church simply seems pointless. Better leave those thoughts on the door just as Luther did. F

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in Vol. 54, Issue No. 3 of the Flame. View the entire issue through this link: https://issuu.com/abtheflame/docs/pages_-_the_flame_issue_3

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