Over the weekend, I read that Pope Francis is backtracking on pedophile priests, trimming their sentences and showing them "mercy." I was saddened. I am not Catholic. I have never particularly "liked" a pope, but there is much about this one that I admire. I like that he takes his vows of poverty seriously. I like his compassion for the poor and disenfranchised. I like that, although he has not significantly changed Church policy on LGBT issues, he has urged compassion and lack of judgment. I have not cared for his stance on women in the priesthood and I have not been impressed with the pace or tenor of his approach to the sex abuse crisis. So when I saw these words, my heart sank.
Pope Francis has quietly reduced sanctions against a handful of pedophile priests, applying his vision of a merciful church even to its worst offenders in ways that survivors of abuse and the pope’s own advisers question.
Worse, his leniency has already backfired, according to the article.
One case has come back to haunt him: An Italian priest who received the pope’s clemency was later convicted by an Italian criminal court for his sex crimes against children as young as 12. The Rev. Mauro Inzoli is now facing a second church trial after new evidence emerged against him, The Associated Press has learned.
But the more I read, and I read several articles, the less substantive this story seemed to be. The new charges against Rev. Inzoli appeared to come from new information, not from re-offense. In fact, there is no evidence that these changes have put any children at risk.