Child abuse victims slam Vatican summit

Child abuse victims slam Vatican summit

Pope Francis has ended his gathering examining child sexual abuse by calling for an “all-out battle” on paedophilia but victims voiced their disappointment.

They said the pope had only repeated old promises and offered few fresh proposals.
Anne Barrett-Doyle of the US-based bishopaccountability.org group called Francis’ speech a “stunning letdown”.

“As the world’s Catholics cry out for concrete change, the pope instead provides tepid promises, all of which we’ve heard before,” she posted. “Especially distressing was the pope’s familiar rationalisation that abuse happens in all sectors of society … We needed him to offer a bold and decisive plan. He gave us instead defensive, recycled rhetoric.”

Almost 200 Catholic leaders gathered at the Vatican (pictured) for the four-day conference on child abuse. In his closing address, the pontiff said national guidelines on preventing and punishing the crime would be strengthened and the church’s definition of minors in cases of possession by the clergy of pornography would be increased from the current age of 14.

At least Vatican staff have been convicted in recent years of possessing child porn.
Cases of abuse in the United States have fallen dramatically because of measures enacted nearly 20 years ago, the church said.

The Vatican announced it would enact a law to protect children and vulnerable adults. The Vatican City is one of the few states without such legislation.

The Catholic authorities said they would publish a guide to “help bishops around the world clearly understand their duties” and train a team to help bishops around the globe handle cases of abuse.

The clergy was told to inform the civil authorities of substantial accusations and to make sure non-clerics were involved in church investigations into abuse.

The Anglican Church of England has co-operated with the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse but the papal nuncio in England has refused co-operation and withheld papers. If he did not hold diplomatic immunity, the Vatican’s envoy could be charged with a criminal offence.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane said the Catholic church in Australia had fallen down in caring for the survivors of abuse, adding that it had been “its own worst enemy”.

At the end of the Vatican summit, the archbishop cited the need for transparency, accountability and inclusiveness, saying the gathering would lead to practical measures in dealing with the crisis.

 

The closed world of the Vatican is facing increasing scrutiny. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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