Vatican should have followed Jesus’ example

This viewpoint, which reflects those of Freedom Communications, was written by the editorial staff at the Gazette in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The best public relations campaigns are based in selfless compassion, truth and transparency.

As a human organization with more than 1 billion members, the Catholic Church has an abundance of internal scandals in need of good PR. Pedophiles and pederasts have joined the priesthood and abused children, just as predators have become teachers, doctors and cops in order to harm those weaker than themselves.

Though some allegations are true and others are kooky, if not downright false, the Catholic Church is not just any organization. One episode of sexual abuse by a priest is completely unacceptable.

The Catholic Church has has the responsibility of representing Christian values of peace, love, honesty, humility and charity — principles of truth our world desperately needs the church to preserve.

When faced with scandalous allegations, Vatican officials should do as Jesus would do. They should focus their concern on any child who may have been harmed by an adult.

That’s what the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops did in 2002, after an onslaught of stories about mismanagement of priestly sexual abuse allegations that were decades old in most cases.

The conference made scant effort to refute claims. Bishops didn’t excuse them with detail and context.

Instead, the conference organized a summit in Dallas that resulted in a model of child protection that sets a gold standard that other institutions are beginning to copy.

The Vatican, by contrast, has gone on the defensive in response to recent allegations that Pope Benedict XVI mismanaged child abuse allegations while serving as archbishop of Munich for a short time in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Easter service in St. Peter’s Square began with what The Associated Press describes as a breaking of tradition and a “ringing defense” of the pope by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican’s Dean of the College of Cardinals. On Tuesday, the Vatican newspaper quoted Sodano saying “it’s not the bishop’s fault if one of his priests is stained by grave wrongdoing. And certainly the pontiff is not responsible.” Other Vatican officials have made similar statements.

The pope did not cause or mismanage every crime committed by every priest who ever worked for him as a bishop, a cardinal and as pope. But all Vatican authorities should put the needs of others — even morally bankrupt plaintiff’s lawyers who exploit tragedy and sometimes invent it — ahead of their own reputations.

The Vatican should have made the pain and suffering, regardless of the details and the exact cause, its only immediate concern.