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#27 Why the Vatican continues to struggle with sex abuse scandals

© LUCA PRIZIA/AFP/Getty Images
Members of Chile's bishops conference, Luis Fernando Ramos Perez and Juan Ignacio Gonzalez, give a news conference at the Vatican in May.

VATICAN CITY —With revelation after revelation, a new wave of sexual abuse scandals is rocking the Roman Catholic Church and presenting Pope Francis with the greatest crisis of his papacy.

In Chile, prosecutors have raided church offices, seized documents and accused leaders of a coverup. In Australia, top church figures are facing detention and trials. And in the United States, after the resignation of a cardinal, questions are swirling about a hierarchy that looked the other way and protected him for years.

The church has had more than three decades — since notable abuse cases first became public — to safeguard victims, and itself, against such system failures. And, in the past five years, many Catholics have looked to Francis as a figure who could modernize the church and help it regain its credibility.

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But Francis’s track record in handling abuse is mixed, something some outsiders attribute to his learning curve or shortcomings and others chalk up to resistance from a notoriously change-averse institution.

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