POPE FRANCIS has been in the news recently due to his removal of more than a dozen cardinals from the Congregation of Bishops and his appointment of others.

American Cardinals Burke and Rigali are in the former group, while Cardinal Wuerl, of Washington, D.C., is in the latter.

In the news as well is a notice that the pope has decided that cardinals will begin hearing confessions regularly at churches around Rome.

As important and interesting as such announcements may be to some, should they really be paramount in people's minds?

First things first:

Will Pope Francis address the single-most critical issue facing the Catholic Church today, which is the continuing clerical sex-abuse scandal?

Given the description of the pope's papal commission on clerical child abuse, especially coming after a United Nations panel criticized the Vatican over its handling of abuse cases, with the Vatican saying that the responsibility for such cases rested with individual bishops, expectations on such a significant level have been decidedly mixed.

Pope Francis' words establishing this new commission in the church's central bureaucracy would be commendable if at the same time he announced plans for disciplining and/or the removal from church offices of those bishops who, by the abuse of their episcopal authority, were complicit in the sexual abuse of thousands of children in the United States alone.

Overseas, in the Netherlands, Dutch bishops have recently acknowledged the abuse of tens of thousands of children, according to a Reuters article.

Perhaps Pope Francis has decided to go the distance with this commission, but if Boston's Cardinal O'Malley's statements are accurate, the pope's creation of such a committee appears to be more along the lines of putting the cart before the horse than anything else.

Any way one looks at it there is really no way to avoid an issue which, if not finally addressed in its totality, will result in even further public-relations fallout for the Catholic Church worldwide.

Remember that diocesan bishops, their underlings, along with the provincials and superiors of religious congregations, created this horrific scandal by protecting known clerical sexual predators with essentially no regard for the Lord's little ones, leaving these lambs unprotected before ravaging wolves.

"The new commission is expected to tell church officials to collaborate with civil authorities and report cases of abuse," O'Malley said.

Is this a decision that calls for a papal commission? No, not to my thinking.

The hierarchy has already exhausted its credibility and moral authority by its flawed response to this scandal over past decades, and neither will be regained by having the ecclesiastical body responsible for covering up that scandal charged with either its evaluation or correction.

That has not worked well since 2002.

Moreover, statements like those quoted above appear ludicrous given the nature of such heinous violations: crimes against the humanity of children.

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish

New Castle, Del.

More on the pope

Normally I read Stuart Caesar's letters to the editor for amusement. He is a staunch libertarian, entitled to his opinions, no matter how odd they seem to me. But when he chooses to critique a column by Catholic conservative Christine Flowers for defending the pope against outrageous accusations by Rush Limbaugh, he goes too far.

First of all, it is not true that Pope Francis is a communist or condemns free markets per se. He is rather a straightforward Christian who takes seriously the Gospel message that we must minister to the least among us. In his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Francis, like Jesus, warns us that an addiction to money can create its own form of tyranny. There is nothing "free" about that.

Gloria C. Endres


Bums' rush

Letter writer Kevin Metz says that no tea-party spokesman has described food-stamp recipients as bums, but the Congressional Record says otherwise. Last May, tea-party Congressman Stephan Fincher (R-Tenn.), who collects a million dollars a year from the Federal Farm Assistance Program, voted in favor of a $40 billion cut to the food stamp program, a cut which basically eliminated the program, justifying the vote with a quote which he says is Biblical: "He who does not work, shall not eat." A tea-party colleague of Fincher's who also voted for the $40 billion cut expressed the hope that the elimination of the food stamp program would "encourage some people to get up off the couch."

These comments could not be construed as cordial - not, in fact, as accurate, since the great majority of the 47 million food-stamp recipients are low-income working mothers, their children and the disabled.

This bad attitude is not, of course, confined to the Congress; if we wish to enter the twilight zone of Fox News or the squawk shows we can find more of the same, rigorously reiterated at length.

Jim Hunter