When Pope Francis called for the creation of a Vatican tribunal to ensure that every bishop be held accountable in protecting children from clergy sex abuse, he put the Church back on the road to transparency, accountability and credibility.
The enforcement tribunal the pope announced last week is critical and long overdue, and a welcome decision for those of us who love our Church.
While serving as ambassador to the Vatican for four-and-a-half years, I sensed the institutional reluctance for change and the need for a more open Church.
What people have to understand is that Pope Francis is not trying to be politically correct in advocating for church policies of openness and inclusion — it reflects who he is as a person. In fact when I first met him when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, my first reaction after our more than half-hour conversation over cappuccino was that he’s a very humble and determined man. He reminded me of so many priests I knew growing up in South Boston and when I was mayor.
There were plenty of good priests who didn’t get credit for what they do, but then again, they never looked for recognition or thanks. Unfortunately, we only heard about the bad apples, not the overwhelming number of faithful and holy men. Priests like Fr. Dan Mahoney from Charlestown, who taught me about the dedication of firefighters and public servants; Fr. Tom McDonnell, who taught me how to love special needs children; Fr. Morris from Providence College, who taught me about treating all people with dignity and respect; and Fr. Gerry Barry, who taught me how to hit a curve ball.
This is the priesthood I know and love.
So it has really pained me over the years to hear about a small number of weak and sick men and how they have damaged the reputation of the many good priests.
Now, thanks to key advisers like Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the church is making a strong comeback. Cardinal O’Malley heads up the commission that will oversee the new tribunal, which will examine cases of bishops accused of protecting priests who abused children. In his blog last week, Cardinal O’Malley rightly noted that one of the strongest objections in the abuse crisis is that the Church has not had a mechanism to really deal with issues of accountability. “It is our hope,” he said,” that this new tribunal will be able to address that problem.”
That’s my hope, too. Our Church has not stopped trying to be more open and accountable. And, with Pope Francis at the helm, I believe our best days are yet to come.
Full article: http://www.bostonherald.com/news_opinion/columnists/2015/06/flynn_bishops_tribunal_moving_church_out_of_scandal_s_darkness