John Allen to the Rescue - Again

Pope Francis created the “abuse summit” to compensate for blocking U.S. bishops from voting on child abuse proposals. Almost immediately, John Allen, editor of CRUX, went to work lowering expectations for that summit. Later, after Pope Francis held a press conference to lower expectations for his summit, John Allen seconded the motion. Now that many are irate about Pope Francis creating a meaningless “summit” for the abuse crisis, John Allen has once again come to his rescue: “‘Zero tolerance’ doesn’t seem an inflated expectation for pope’s summit.”

After reviewing the sad history of the papal summit, Mr. Allen notes, “To many well-intentioned people, playing down expectations can sound dangerously like denial, indifference, or - worst of all - connivance in cover-up.” This is another fine mess. Pope Francis kicks the can down the road with yet another meaningless bureaucratic procedure, and people are restless. How can you make it look like Pope Francis is acting responsibly while still doing nothing?

Mr. Allen thinks he’s figured a way out. First, he reminds us of another recent papal stall for time: “At the Synod of Bishops on youth last October, prelates from around the world walked up to the brink of affirming a zero tolerance policy on abuse but then pulled back at the last minute.” Allen’s brainstorm: Now take the next step. The abuse summit in February is “the perfect time for Francis to stipulate that zero tolerance is the global standard of the Catholic Church.”

Doesn’t this look like a bold new step? Won’t it look like Pope Francis is finally doing something meaningful? After all, “zero tolerance” carries an implicit threat. Do that again and I’ll really give it to you!!

But John Allen fails to mention that Pope John Paul II declared zero tolerance decades ago. Pope Benedict reiterated the claim. And from the start of his papacy - even before creating his special commission on child abuse - Pope Francis declared “zero tolerance.” In fact, it is almost his mantra. How many times can you cry “Wolf”? How many times can you say the check is in the mail?

P.S.  I forgot to mention that John Allen is also the author of The Francis Miracle.


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