The Vatican, many believe, will not keep its promises.

Pope Francis inaugurated the synod "Young People, Faith, and Vocational Discernment" at a time when the Catholic church continues to reel from one case after another of sex abuse. Observers believed the scandal would be discussed as an informal agenda during discussions. Francis urged various church leaders during the opening mass held in St. Peter's Square to not allow the faith of the coming generation to be extinguished by the Vatican's “shortcomings, mistakes and sins.”

The pressure on the Catholic Church to investigate and punish sex abusers is so intense that Philadelphia's Archbishop Charles Chaput has asked for this synod to be canceled so that the church could make arrangements to prepare a meeting of bishops' specifically on the issue of preventing sex abuse. The gathering had over 250 priests, cardinals, and bishops, along with 34 young Catholics. The meeting, slated to last a month, will discuss how to minister to the coming generations. It will also request both the young and the old to interact with one another sans prejudice.

Pope Francis prayed to the almighty for assistance to make sure “the church does not allow itself, from one generation to the next, to be extinguished or crushed by the prophets of doom and misfortune.” The church, he said, is vulnerable to human shortcomings and sins.

Not far from the gathering was a sit-in by several abuse survivors demanding their cause must compulsorily be discussed, and subsequent action taken. They expressed anger that a few of the delegates have shielded abusive priests from the long arm of the law. One protest sign said it all: "Make 'Zero Tolerance' Real."

For Pope Francis, 2018 is a disastrous year. He made substantial mistakes on tackling abuse within the church. The pontiff also was ham-headed when it came to cover up a Chile scandal before he understood the real situation and changed track. The last few months have brought no respite: he was accused of rehabilitating a certain U.S. ex-cardinal who put pressure on seminarians to make conjugal relationships with him. These cases, compounded with the publication of other studies documenting years of abuse and subsequent cover-ups in Germany and Pennsylvania which happened before he ascended the post, have to lead to doubts regarding his stated "zero tolerance."

It does not help that all the implicated bishops continue to hold their posts.

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