The hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church is partially responsible for why bishops, including the pope, are not investigated or accountable to any external oversight body. As a consequence, one should not be surprised that only 7 out of 150 bishops credibly accused of abusing minors or vulnerable adults have actually been laicized. In the United States, with less than 200 dioceses, “more than 130 U.S. bishops” have been accused of “failing to adequately respond to sexual misconduct in their dioceses.”
The question of holding bishops accountable who engage in or cover up abuse has become all the more pressing in recent weeks following the announcement that San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy has been chosen by Pope Francis to be awarded the red hat despite his scandalous track record. This event and the response since its announcement allows us to reflect on the legacy of this pontificate in handling this all-important issue.
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