The big discussion at the 2014 SNAP conference was “everybody’s favorite pontiff,” Pope Francis.
Journalist Jason Berry—who faced raised eyebrows for earlier comments criticizing SNAP’s methods and “skillset“—told the group at his conference speech that SNAP should work strategically to “get a place at the table” and negotiate with the Vatican. (Note: Berry did apologize to the larger group and individuals for his July 29 remarks)
As much as I like and respect Jason, I think he is being suckered in by former Fox News journo/now Vatican communications guy Greg Burke’s carefully crafted Papal PR Machine. It’s the machine that always ensures there are plenty of photographers around to take photos of the Pope washing the feet of an Islamic woman, driving a car, living in a small apartment, and personally calling letter-writers. (In case you haven’t noticed, the PR move of calling letter writers was so successful, it’s been copied by Barack Obama, who is facing abysmal favorability poll numbers).
But just because the papal PR machine is shouting the loudest, doesn’t mean it’s right.
Fortunately, survivors ain’t buying it. I, for one, think a few “authentic gestures” are required.
What’s an “authentic gesture,” you ask?
Authentic gestures DO NOT include secret meetings with carefully picked survivors (who are asked to attend Mass and are sworn to secrecy until after the meeting). Authentic measures are NOT apologies, and certainly do not describe the deliberate and criminal cover-up of sexual abuse as “sins of omission.”
I’ll go back to my old rallying cry: I’ll believe that the Pope is a champion for real change when he fires convicted child endangerer (I guess that can be a word in this case) and Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn. THAT would be an authentic gesture. Super easy stuff. But too hard for Pope Francis, apparently.
Until then, I’ll pass on a seat at the Vatican’s table. I don’t like the Kool-aid they serve.