An Acid Test For Francis, Ctd

Barbie Latza Nadeau is optimistic about Pope Francis’ appointees to a new commission designed to deal with sex abuse in the Catholic Church:

The more surprising members of the group are the female members. Marie Collins is a married Irish woman who was raped at the age of 13 by a priest. She is an activist for child safety within the Catholic Church and has been vocal about how she was snubbed by her local parish and told to “protect the priest’s good name” when she accused him.

The eight-person commission includes four women and five lay people, a development Collins described as “encouraging.” Still, the committee’s mandate remains unclear: its first responsibilities are “determining the commission’s structure, outlining its duties, and putting forward names of other candidates who might join its work.” John Allen has a cautious analysis:

[N]aming people to a commission is not, in itself, reform. It remains to be seen if this group can successfully ride herd on forces in the church still in denial, or help the pope hold bishops and other Catholic leaders accountable if they drop the ball.

If the commission turns out to be a dud, Saturday’s announcement won’t be enough to save the pope from the disillusionment that will ensure. For now, however, the lineup card revealed by the pope not only amounts to a clear statement of seriousness about the abuse issue, but it also shows a deft political touch.