Tom Roberts is NCR executive editor. Tom was NCR editor from 2000-2008. He is the author of The Emerging Catholic Church: A Community's Search for Itself (2011) and Joan Chittister: Her Journey from Certainty to Faith (2015), both published by Orbis Books.
The talks delivered to the U.S. bishops contain only passing reference to the sex abuse scandal that was the reason behind the unusual retreat, suggested by Pope Francis, and the omission was intentional.
There is another reality within the Catholic universe that, while existing beneath the headlines of the day, is a far more compelling reason for believing there's something in the heart of the Gospel that the world desperately needs, hierarchy or not.
Recent disclosures are not a sign the episcopacy suddenly became aware of how utterly corrupt its culture had become. They are more a measure of how great the pressure from the outside has become.