Nevertheless, it should also be noted that the U.S. church's handling of abuse and misgovernance since 2002 has been immensely strengthened by the insight and professional expertise of many women—just as we also ought to recognize that laywomen, single and married, are usually the teachers who make today's Catholic schools safe and successful. Moreover, women are the great majority of the volunteers and paid staff who make Catholic parishes both safe and vital. The notion that women don't have anything to do with how the Catholic Church operates confuses the Catholic Church with the higher altitudes of "the Vatican," and ignores how Catholic life is actually lived in America and Europe.
As for doctrine: what ought to be obvious about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is that these grave sins and crimes were acts of infidelity, denials of the truths the church teaches. A priest who takes seriously the vows of his ordination is not a sexual abuser or predator. And if a bishop takes seriously his ordination oath to shepherd the Lord's flock, he will always put the safety of the Master's little ones ahead of concerns about public scandal. Catholic Lite is not the answer to what has essentially been a crisis of fidelity.
Since 2002, with strong support from then-cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (and from him still as Benedict XVI), the Catholic Church in America has developed and enforced policies and procedures to ensure the safety of the young that offer an important model for the world church. There were only six credible reports of sexual abuse of the young in the U.S. church last year. And while that is six too many in a church that ought to hold itself to the highest standards, it is nonetheless remarkable in a community of 68 million people.
What is essential throughout the world, however, is that the church become more Catholic, not less. John Paul II's "Theology of the Body" proposed an understanding of faithful and fruitful human love as an icon of God's inner life. That vision is far nobler, far more compelling, and far more humane than the sex-as-contact-sport teaching of the sexual revolution, the principal victims of which seem to be vulnerable young people. Those who are genuinely committed to the protection of the young might ponder whether Catholicism really needs to become Catholic Lite—or whether the Augean stables of present-day culture need a radical cleansing.