Pope Francis opened the Vatican’s summit on the protection of minors and vulnerable people telling bishops they must take “concrete” steps to tackle the scourge of sexual abuse. Source: The Tablet.
“The holy people of God looks to us, and expects from us not simple and predictable condemnations, but concrete and effective measures to be undertaken. We need to be concrete,” he told the 190 participants including 114 presidents of bishops’ conferences, Vatican officials and religious superiors.
Calling on the bishops to “listen to the cry of the little ones seeking justice”, Francis said that discussions must take place “in a synodal, frank and in-depth manner, how to confront this evil afflicting the Church and humanity.”
Participants were gathered inside Paul VI synod hall in the Vatican yesterday for an intense session of discussions which saw Manila’s Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle break down in tears as he talked about the wounds “inflicted by us, the bishops, on the victims”.
Bishops were given a list of 21 “reflection points” with suggested steps such as raising the minimum age for marriage to 16 years, informing civil authorities about cases of abuse and establishing protocols for dealing with bishops accused of abuse.
The bishops from across the world heard harrowing video testimony from unnamed abuse survivors including from one woman who talked about how from the age of 15 she had sexual relations with a priest over the course of 13 years.
“I got pregnant three times and he made me have an abortion three times, quite simply because he did not want to use condoms or contraceptives,” she said. “Since I was completely dependent on him economically, I suffered all the humiliations he inflicted on me.”
Another victim told the gathering: “I’ll request the bishops to get their act clear because this is one of the time bombs happening in the Church of Asia. If [you] want to save the Church, we need to put our act together and get the perpetrators to book.”
The February 21-24 summit is the first global Church gathering of bishops to address the abuse crisis and includes 36 bishops from Africa who make up the largest cohort at the summit. There has been a concern the crisis is not being taken sufficiently seriously on that continent with one prelate arguing the problem was “very, very minimal”.
Pope calls for concrete measures at abuse summit (The Tablet)
Vatican abuse summit shines light on long fight for justice (The Guardian)
Pope vows ‘concrete’ steps against abuse (News.com.au)