Monday, Nov. 03, 2008

The Pope Wows the States

Repeat after us: pastoral visits do not make Papal policy. Benedict XVI stunned and impressed his hosts during his pontifical visit to the United States with his relentless engagement of the trip's most delicate issue, the church's sex abuse scandal. Starting on the plane over, he issued a string of heartfelt apologies admitting "deep shame" about the tragedy, met privately with victims and accepted a book listing 1,500 victims — and their subsequent struggles — from archbishop Sean O'Malley, who inherited the scandal's ground zero, Boston, from Cardinal Bernard Law. Benedict's rue was far more than a gesture, but less than a promise — the Vatican has done little since to address the systemic abuses of authority that allowed the sex scandals to occur. And now, retired Cardinal Law runs a Roman basilica.