The sexual-abuse scandal is arguably the most serious crisis for the Catholic Church in the West since the Protestant Reformation, with still near-daily reminders of its scope, the fumbling nature of the institutional response, and the pain done to the victims and their families. Wednesday brought news of the death of former Boston Cardinal Bernard Law, likely to be remembered by many in the United States (and elsewhere) for his role in keeping secret the abusive behavior of priests in the archdiocese over the course of decades. This comes the same week the Vatican has let lapse the term of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors; the appointments of its members expired on December 17, and as of now it’s not fully clear whether Pope Francis will extend or renew them. And these developments follow last week’s release of the final report of Australia’s Royal Commission investigation into institutional responses to childhood sexual abuse—which could have particularly large ramifications for the Church as it continues to find a way to fully address this historic scandal.
More: Commonweal Magazine