Tackling the root causes
During the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families, the issue of the abuse crisis in the Church followed him everywhere. He addressed it at Dublin Castle, at Knock, during the closing Mass at the Phoenix Park, with the Irish bishops and of course when he met with victims of clerical abuse. Asking and praying for forgiveness and healing was both welcome and necessary in a Church and a country that has suffered greatly from this ‘open wound’ that came to light in the past number of decades. The timing of Pope Francis’ visit to Ireland coincided with the eruption of the abuse crisis in other parts of the world, most notably in Chile and the United States. This led to a greater intensity and pressure on the Pope to address the issue and assure the faithful that this terrible problem was being acknowledged and addressed. When reports like those in Ferns, Dublin, Cloyne or Pennsylvania are published, they detonate a crisis that explodes with devastating effects. In the immediate aftermath, there is an understandable scramble to mange the ‘field hospital’ of the Church as people are justifiably angry, feel betrayed, look for scapegoats and demand action.