Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal
Sex abuse allegations against Catholic priests have led to more than 50 'de-frockings' in England and Wales since new guidelines
The Head of the Catholic Church has likened the abuse of children by priests to “like celebrating a black Mass”. Pope Francis
Ahead of the first anniversary of his papacy, it's a good time to review the Pope's handling of the child abuse crisis, which so plagued the papacy of his predecessor. Few would dispute that clerical child abuse was the most pressing issue, given that his predecessor's lamentable performance on this was widely thought to be the main reason that a papal election took place.
Perhaps the biggest question that this examination raises is the extent to which Francis wishes to - or indeed is able to - start coming clean over child abuse by requiring reporting to secular authorities, and cooperating with them by providing information which the Vatican has hitherto kept secret and instructed others to do likewise.
I don't want to join the queue of ill-wishers wagging fingers at Keith O'Brien, the fallen leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland. The poor man is surely experiencing that kind of hell on earth that only Catholic guilt can generate.
Only last week, as part of my research for a new book, I became aware of the prophecies of Saint Malachy, made in 1143 AD. He fairly accurately predicted each and every pope from that time until... the end of time.
Even the most neutral of observers would have to agree that his popedom has been a PR disaster for the Catholic Church.
The religious right is pushing the ludicrous scenario whereby the state gleefully rushes in and tears apart innocent families, forcibly placing children for adoption because it doesn't like the colour of mammy's rosary beads.
When Savile reportedly laughed in the face of one of his victims who threatened to report him, he had clearly come to regard himself as legally untouchable, and this impunity was due to at best an extraordinary willingness of the various institutions he was involved with to turn a blind eye to his crimes.
The Catholic church now maintains that it abhors child abuse and that it wants to root it out. If the Catholic church is serious about this then in my view it has a responsibility to come clean about past abuse. And there's a simple way for the Catholic church to do this - open its secret archives to the police.