To many advocates of reform in the Catholic church, the election of conservative Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as pope in April 2005 was a blow to hopes the Vatican would change positions on gender, sexuality, divorce, and the church hierarchy.
Yet the result encouraged three prominent reformers who were appointed to a U.S. bishops' National Review Board. The three American Catholics -- a judge, an attorney and a newspaper publisher -- were concerned mainly with the clergy sex scandal.
They had met with Ratzinger in his Vatican office in 2004 for an extensive discussion on the cover-ups of clergy sex abuse of children, and came to view Ratzinger as the best churchman anywhere on the issue. A year later, when he became Pope Benedict XVI, they were often quoted praising him in American news articles.
But that was then.
The recent clamor over media revelations about two priests whose abuse cases were adjudicated under Ratzinger's watch have led two of the three panel members who met with Ratzinger to reconsider their views.