Briefing: the strength of the Pope's recent condemnation of clerical sex abuse at Sydney is worth noting. The UK is fare from free of these problems.
From Damian Thompson, in part (see his full post): It's true that the heyday of sexual assault by Catholic clergy was a long time ago, during the 1970s. But the heyday of the cover-ups was much more recent. Many bishops alive today were up to their necks in it; interestingly, liberal and conservative prelates were equally guilty.
Pope John Paul II did not respond adequately to the revelations that surfaced during his pontificate: in his confused old age, he even publicly honoured the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Fr Marcial Maciel, long after it was clear that the guy was a sexual predator. It was Benedict who finally took action against the disgusting old hypocrite.
The Pope's strongly worded apology in Australia is part and parcel of his reforms of the whole Church: it cannot be divorced from his determination to breathe new life into moribund structures. The Catholic Church is emphatically not a nest of paedophiles, as its enemies claim; but for years it has been saddled with lazy and smug prelates - not just liberals, I hasten to add - whose sense of their own moral superiority helped protect sexual predators.
Do the bishops of the world and the administrators of the Vatican really share the Pope's deep sense of shame at what happened? I'm still not convinced.