Victims of Sexual Abuse Demand Meeting with Pope Francis

Continuing scandals have eroded the credibility of the Catholic Church.

The Vatican officials who met with 12 victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by Catholic clergy were urged to apply zero tolerance policies on such crimes. The five officials were also told to use the same stringent punishment on not only the perpetrator but also those who cover up such incidents. The victims demanded an audience with Pope Francis to reiterate their demands. The Vatican called the meeting one day before a historic conference on clerical abuse which will guide senior bishops on how to manage a problem which has reduced the credibility of the Catholic Church.

The meeting between church officials and victims lasted over two hours. The sexual abuse survivors expressed disappointment with Pope Francis’ absence at the meeting, even though Francis was not scheduled to be there. The thoughts of the victims were vocalized by an American, Peter Isely of Milwaukee, MN, who pointed out that the discussion will be fruitful only if it was held with a person sitting in the position of power. The pope has the power to make the rules, and his presence was sorely needed. Isley was abused by a priest in his boyhood. According to Isley, the discussion went a little confrontational at times but remained cordial throughout.

Isley, along with other victims, said bishops who hid abusers and covered up their crimes must not be allowed to wear priestly robes any longer. They should be sacked from the religious profession, a procedure known as laicization.

The conference will last a total of four days. It will witness presidents of the various Roman Catholic bishops, heads of both female and male religious orders, Vatican officials, and experts coming together under a common roof. The meeting takes place at the backdrop of the Catholic Church with its 1.3 billion members trying to formulate a coordinated and concerted effort which will be implemented on a worldwide scale to manage a decades-old crisis.

The sexual abuse scandals have deeply eroded the credibility of the church all over the world, including United States, Ireland, Chile, and Australia. The Church was forced to pay billions of dollars in settlements. When it came to the conference, victims expressed disbelief at the Vatican branding the conference as some kind of teaching session.

According to the Holy See, this conference is required as not all the attending bishops are entirely familiar with the method to tackle abuse.


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