Antagonists worldwide in their campaign against Pope Benedict XVI might be well on the way towards a conversion towards a more protagonist view of the Pope and the Catholic Church. Since the Pope’s return from his apostolic visit to Malta, there has been a strong flurry of activities related to the removal, retirement or replacement of some bishops that failed to adequately respond to the clergy sex abuse crisis. Just a few days ago, Pope Benedict XVI promised action in regards to dealing with the ongoing crisis; now the actions are taking place within episcopal conferences around the world.

The acknowledgement of the Holy Father of the extreme gravity of the crisis clearly indicates that there is indeed an acceptance and understanding of the issues that often undermine the Church through some sexually rogue clergy. The rash of episcopal resignations are the first effective sign that Benedict’s promise for appropriate response will yield more changes that are positive factors in restoring ecclesial unity throughout the world.

Some observers might think Benedict’s acceptance of these resignations is a punitive response to episcopal incompetence all around the world. His response in this manner is really the first step in paternal correction and guidance to the world’s Catholic bishops that seemingly has not always happened in the last few decades. By the removal and replacement of the world’s bishops that failed to adequately react and respond to the clergy sex abuse scandal, the stage is set towards stronger reformations of the Church’s internal policies and relationship with civil judicial authorities.

What appeared just a few weeks ago, as a conspiratorial attempt to collectively hide the incidents of sexual misconduct and abuse is now just the opposite. The Church is stating clearly and with authority that the abuse of children is never acceptable and will no longer be tolerated. The Vatican Press Office released the current norms enacted for handling accusations of sexual abuse by clergy and the worlds bishops are firmly behind the desire for total transparency.

Pope Benedict XVI deserves strong accolades for his swift actions in handling the crisis. More importantly, he needs the prayerful support of all of the world’s Catholics, while making definitive changes in the manner the Church acknowledges and repents from abuse allegations. The secular media has been very intent on listing the inadequacies of the Church’s handling of this crisis. Now, the world needs to permit Pope Benedict XVI, with the guidance of the Holy Spirit to heal the wounds of the scandal and observe institutional penance for the shortcomings.

This period is perhaps one of the most painful for the life of the Catholic Church, because it has been forced by the sex abuse scandal to look into the unattractive image the mirror presents and make changes. The Church does not usually move quickly on many issues and matters. It responds in a manner that is usually slow and meditative. Benedict’s quick reaction illustrates the Church is clearly sorrowful for its behavior and now seeks forgiveness and reconciliation.

It is especially significant that the Holy Father has asked the forgiveness of the world, the crisis occurred globally. Catholicism as a global entity is moving into a state of institutional penance. Most importantly, the Church has resolved that this will never happen again. Such resolution is intrinsic to the Sacrament of Reconciliation in the Catholic Church for every baptized Catholic that takes part in the Sacrament. The Church, as the Body of Christ makes the same confession of sin, acknowledgement of the grievous nature of the offenses and firmly resolves to avoid future occurrences of the same grievous sin. Now it is time for forgiveness and absolution, restitution and reconciliation.

The notion that,” the Church prays as the Church believes” also applies to the manner in which the Church operates daily. Pope Benedict XVI is reminding everyone world wide that the Church is taking the definitive course towards healing and conversion in regards to its own shortcomings.

Pray for Pope Benedict XVI, all of the victims of clerical sex abuse, both clergy and laity alike. We as members of the Mystical Body of Christ have all been hurt by the scandal. Pray now for healing.

Hugh J.McNichol is a Catholic author and journalist writing on Catholic topics and issues. He attended Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, where he studied both philosophy and theology. He writes frequently at & . Hugh writes about his Irish Catholic upbringing and educational experiences at   He has contributed works to Catholic News Agency, Catholic Online, The Irish Catholic, Dublin, the British Broadcasting Company, London and the Philadelphia Bulletin, Catholic Exchange,, Blogger News Network & The Catholic Business Journal, & Comments are always welcome at

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