VATICAN CITY — The Vatican on Tuesday released the first details of Pope Francis’ upcoming high-stakes sex abuse prevention summit, making clear that bishops attending the gathering must reach out to victims before they get to Rome and that accountability is very much on the agenda.
Organizers of the Feb. 21-24 summit warned participants in a letter that failure to address the scandal now threatens the very credibility of the Catholic Church around the world.
As a first step, they urged the estimated 130 presidents of national bishops’ conferences attending the summit to meet with survivors in their home countries “to learn firsthand the suffering that they have endured.”
Francis invited the church leaders to the meeting to develop a comprehensive response to what has become the gravest threat to his papacy, as the abuse and cover-up scandal erupted anew in the U.S., Chile and elsewhere this year.
Survivors have been dubious about what the meeting can accomplish, given the limited time, the varied experiences and needs of national churches and the fact that the problem has already been known for years.
“They’re just now getting around to this? Good Lord, where’ve you been?” marveled Barbara Dorris, a survivor of abuse who has been a longtime outspoken advocate for victims.
Noting that the U.S. scandal first emerged in 2001, she said: “It’s been 17 years. If you haven’t met with survivors in 17 years, I think that says a lot right there.”
In revealing the first details of the meeting, the Vatican said itt would focus on three main areas: responsibility, accountability and transparency. The reference to accountability suggests that church leaders will confront not only the crimes of priests who rape and molest minors, but the cover-up by their superiors as well.
Abuse victims and their advocates have long blasted the Vatican for failing to discipline and remove bishops who fail to protect their flocks, and until recently Francis appeared unwilling to significantly change course.
He appointed four key clerics to prepare the meeting: Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich, a Francis-appointee and staunch supporter, Mumbai Cardinal Oswald Gracias, a member of the pope’s informal cabinet, as well as the Vatican’s leading abuse experts, Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna and the Rev. Hans Zollner.
Their letter to the global church hierarchy laid out the stakes.
“Absent a comprehensive and communal response, not only will we fail to bring healing to victim survivors, but the very credibility of the church to carry on the …read more
Source:: Deseret News – U.S. & World News