Opinion Brief

The meaning of the Pope's tears

Benedict reportedly wept during a meeting with victims of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest. Does this mean he is finally taking the scandal seriously?

The composed veneer of Pope Benedict XVI over the sex abuse crisis affecting the Catholic Church cracked this weekend, as he apparently wept during a meeting with victims of sexual abuse. The Pope spoke for half an hour with eight men from Malta who were abused as children by four priests in a Catholic orphanage. "He had tears in his eyes," one of the men, Joseph Magro, told the Associated Press afterwards. (Watch an AP report about the Pope's tearful meeting with abuse victims) Does Benedict's emotional response to the victims mark a turning point in his handling of the PR crisis?

Stop crying and clean up the church: This means very little, says an unsigned editorial in the Independent Florida Alligator. No amount of "Vatican-sized tears will reverse the pain and shame these men feel." Giving tearful condolences is one thing, but "actions speak louder than words. "The Pope needs to "blow [his] nose" and make "substantial changes in the regulatory proceedings for priesthood." 
"Pope's apology is too little, too late"

The Pope is trying to atone: This "surprise" meeting with clerical sex abuse victims is "uplifting news," says Austen Ivereigh at America Magazine. It's worth noting that while this was the first time the Pope has met with abuse victims this year, it's the "third time on his foreign trips — he met abuse victims in 2008 in the US and Australia." It would be "extremely surprising" if he didn't do the same in the UK in September.
"Pope cries with abuse victims in Malta"

We want facts, not tears: This tearful meeting won't "silence questions" about the Pope's role in this scandal, says Jeff Israely in Time. Such "occasional pastoral care" won't atone for the cases Benedict is "accused of personally mishandling" before he was elected Pope. The "short-term siege" of the Vatican may be over, but we're still waiting for answers.
"Benedict in Malta: an effort to quiet the sex abuse storm"

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