Smoke was a big topic of conversation at Darkness to Light HQ yesterday afternoon: specifically, the color of the smoke coming from the Sistine Chapel. As gray smoke turned to white, the D2L team gathered together to watch Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina become the first Pope Francis. According to news sources, the name Francis is an interesting and possibly telling choice. St. Francis of Assisi is revered as a champion of the poor, one of the people – a man called to repair a Church in ruins. Fraught with division and scandal, the modern Catholic Church could certainly use a unifying voice.
At the top of our list is the question of how Pope Francis will handle the issue of child sexual abuse. Studies show a majority of U.S. Catholics believe this to be the largest issue facing the Catholic Church today. The new pope has the opportunity to hear these voices and make desperately needed changes within the Church, which include:
- publicly acknowledging the issue;
- providing CSA prevention training to current and future leaders at all levels;
- holding leaders who abuse children legally accountable for their actions.
We at D2L extend our best wishes to Pope Francis, along with our hope that his name choice signifies a new era in the Catholic Church – one that recognizes that the innocence of a child is not collateral damage, and that all children should have the opportunity to grow up healthy and whole. To quote Robert F. Kennedy, “Few men are willing to brave the disapproval of their fellows, the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence. Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change the world which yields most painfully to change.”