The secular news media (and in a particular, and understandably, the media in the United States) have made much of Pope Francis’s letter to Catholics about the clerical abuse crisis. A favourite epithet has been ‘unprecedented’.
How quickly these people have forgotten the similar (but more elegantly worded) letter of Pope Benedict to the Irish on a like occasion!
Of course, the new Papal letter is welcome and significant. But it would have been as well to temper the praise of it with a more sober account of what, if anything, has been achieved during this pontificate. That would require reviewing the ham-fisted treatment of the Chilean crisis and other dealings with South America; the resignation of Marie Collins and the inactivity of the Vatican commission; the continuance in high office of those under suspicion or actual investigation.
That less than laudatory account would have necessitated the conclusion that the time has now come for actions and not words.