Where to begin.
This must be what it felt like at the beginning of the Counter-Reformation. Quite clearly the Augean Stables need cleared out and in my book there is only one man capable of starting the job. It is too much to expect tha Almighty God will spare him to complete the work but we should pray God the Holy Father's successor will be a man of similar vision and courage.
Some of the representatives of the victims of abuse could not accept the Pope's apology. I guess they never will and I'm sorry and I pray for them.
What is it that non-Catholics don't get? The teaching of the catholic Church is explicit and stern:
2389 Connected to incest is any sexual abuse perpetrated by adults on children or adolescents entrusted to their care. The offense is compounded by the scandalous harm done to the physical and moral integrity of the young, who will remain scarred by it all their lives; and the violation of responsibility for their upbringing.
Her Master was sterner still:
It were better for him, that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should scandalize one of these little ones.
That won't stop them trying. The stain is on the priesthood. In the common mind the words priest and paedophile are virtually synonymous, resulting in this kind of slander (though quite what Fr Magee was doing in a Masonic Lodge in the West of Scotland is anyone's guess. Very ecumenical.)
I am bewildered, but know I shouldn't be. Priests are men and men are fallen. We can change systems and put protection into place, as we have in hospitals and social care homes but we can only cut down the risk. The Holy Father can institute reforms but the changes have to take place in the hearts of a billion or more Catholics.
Why are we surprised? Is the Truth damaged because men can't live up to it? No. What do we do? Maybe we should demand a little more. That our seminaries are better run. That our seminarians and priests hold the teaching of the Church in public and in private. That the fullness of the Church's teaching is pronounced from the pulpit. that there is a return to asceticism, prayer and discipline in the clergy.
But we as lay people should also demand a little more of ourselves. Do we pray the Rosary for priests? Do we pray for good vocations. Do we fast and do penance? Do we pray for the victims of abuse. Are we faithful in our own lives? Do we hold the teaching of the Church in public and in private. Do we support priests and appreciate them? Are we willing to stand up for the Holy Father when the sneers come at work or at dinner parties or in the pub?
It's time to clear up the mess. And it starts with all of us.