Sunday, March 9 2014 8:35 PM EDT2014-03-10 00:35:58 GMT
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The selection of a new Pope is both historic and significant.
Historic because a change in the Catholic Church's leadership is extremely rare – this is only the sixth in my lifetime. And significant because with over 75 million Catholics in the U.S. and over 1.2 billion worldwide, any Pope wields huge power and influence over world affairs.
Right now, the top priority for the new Pope Francis has to be to restore the credibility of the Church regarding the many revelations concerning child sexual abuse that have surfaced in recent decades.
Certainly most Catholic priests aren't child abusers. But the many cover-ups of abusive behavior by bishops and other church leaders has caused many people to question whether the Church values its image over its moral responsibilities.
It's up to Pope Francis I to change that perception. He must make it clear that merely shuffling sexual abusers from one parish to another – or shielding them in any other way -- will no longer be tolerated. And that from now on, any authority figure who knowingly covers up abusive behavior will be subject to the same discipline as the abuser himself.
How could any man stand in judgment one day before God and explain how he did less?