Let the bishops be judged: the departure of two cardinals leaves the Francis papacy at a crossroads

05 July 2017 | by Jason Berry

Clerical sexual abuse


Cardinal George Pell’s return to Australia to face criminal charges has dealt a severe blow to Pope Francis’ reform agenda, making him the third consecutive Pope to find himself in a swamp over the long, aching crisis of clergy sex abuse.

Regardless of the allegations that he now faces, Pell’s record in Australia on sex abuse cases, particularly his approval of bare-knuckle legal counter-attacks on victims, should have disqualified him from a Vatican post. Yet Francis not only chose him to lead the clean-up of the Vatican’s murky finances but also asked him to join his circle of nine cardinal-advisers without regard for that past.

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