The pope has stated "that 'all other institutions' in society should be held to the same 'exacting standards' as the Roman Catholic Church in preventing and reporting sex abuse."
Well, yay for him. Well ... except, actually, it's not a question of the same exacting standards being applied. It would have been nice if the Catholic Church had a good record in applying even rather basic standards for protecting children from sexual abuse. You've got to wonder whether the pope really gets it, if he thinks that what is being required of the Church is especially "exacting"; in fact, the hint that the Church has merely failed to meet high, difficult, challenging standards sounds awfully like someone trying to make excuses.
Yes, it would be very good if basic standards for protecting children from abuse were applied to all organisations whose employees and officers exercise authority over children. No doubt of that. But the Catholic Church is not excused if there are other organisations which also turn out to be morally obtuse, self-serving, and managerially incompetent when it comes to these issues.
If I murder a rival, for example, I am not less culpable merely because other people have sometimes done the same thing. This kind of behaviour is either tolerable or it isn't. If it's not, then I shouldn't be going around complaining that I am being held to some "exacting" standard, and trying to deflect the discussion to whether others are being held to the same standard. If I do so, I don't have much credibility.
There's a further aspect. The Catholic Church claims a special moral authority; it claims to have been guided, historically, by God (and founded by Jesus during the Son of God's incarnation on earth); and it claims, moreover, that its priests and bishops are spiritually transformed individuals.
If these claims entail that the Church and its hierarchs have some special moral wisdom and authority, then why have we seen so much egregious obtuseness, cruelty, incompetence, blame-shifting, etc.? If we are told, as a matter of theological analysis, that, notwithstanding the truth of its grandiose claims, the Church does not have any special moral wisdom and authority ... well let us be told that clearly. The Church can't have it both ways.
If it claims special moral wisdom and authority, that claim is pretty much unbelievable by now.
But if it does not claim that sort of authority, why should we bother listening to it? Why should politicians - and others who exert social and political power - be at all deferential to what the Church has to say?
The Catholic Church goes on trying to have things both ways. We need to keep calling it out.