Pope's Picks For Anti-Abuse Panel Turn Heads

In the past, Pope Francis has been criticized for moving too slowly to address sexual abuse within the church.
Posted at 4:40 PM, Mar 23, 2014

Pope Francis has been praised in the mainstream press for his work on the Catholic Church's public image, but he has also received criticism for his silence on some major issues affecting the church — until now.

USA Today says the pontiff's recent choices for an anti-abuse commission make a strong statement about sexual abuse in the Church, the lack of representation of women and the lack of a voice for lay people — that's people outside the clergy. Some say it's a move that shows off the pope's "political instincts."

Pope Francis has largely been portrayed positively in the press, partly because of his focus on the poor. But he's also defended some unpopular Church stances. (Via CNN)

In an interview with an Italian newspaper earlier this month, he defended the church's record on the fight against sexual abuse — saying, "The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution to have acted with transparency and responsibility. No one else has done more. Yet the Church is the only one to be attacked." (Via Corriere della Sera)

But Francis' picks for the new commission on abuse might prove the pope is changing his tune on fighting these problems.

The Washington Post reports the eight appointees include four women and five lay people — among them a woman who was sexually abused by a cleric decades ago and a Cardinal who played a large part in tackling abuse in the Boston area.

The Irish Times calls the move "appropriate" — saying: "What remains undeniable is that the Commission could hardly have been appointed at a more appropriate moment nor ... in a more politically correct way. Gender parity, voice for the laity and concern for minors are all contained in one packet."

But not everyone is optimistic about the new anti-abuse commission.

According to The Daily Beast, a leading anti-sex-abuse advocate says, "We are still skeptical. ... They don't need another study panel to figure out how to act. The pope needs to take decisive action today and demote and defrock abusers, not wait for another study group to talk more about it."

Pope Francis is set to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama Thursday to discuss poverty and income inequality.