ROME — The summit on the protection of minors is well underway at the Vatican.
The greatest criticism from victims is that the meeting itself is a lack of a plan to move forward, claiming bishops are just talking. But, the words of Pope Francis right out of the gate were clear — a call for concrete measures to rid the church of clergy sex abuse.
Embracing the problem and finding solutions were the key themes as speakers took the stage following opening remarks from the Holy Father who convened the presidents of the world’s bishops conferences.
Harsh words from the first to the microphone acknowledging, by not embracing victims, church leaders were at fault for abuse, even if they did not commit the crimes themselves.
“How can we profess faith in Christ when we close our eyes to all the wounds inflicted by abuse Brothers and sisters this is what is at stake in this moment of crisis brought about by the abuse of children and our poor handling of these crimes,” Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle said.
Cardinal Tagle of the Philippines talked of taking responsibility and suggested forgiveness was in order, not to absolve abusers of the ramifications of their heinous actions, but to help the abused heal.
Tagle continued, “Before we even raise the issue of asking the victims to forgive as part of their healing, we must clarify that we are not suggesting that they just let it all go, excuse the abuse and just move on, no! Far from it. Without question, we know that when victims come to a moment of forgiving others who have harmed them a deeper healing takes place.”
There was great discussion about civil versus church investigations as the man tasked with addressing Chile’s sex abuse crisis addressed the crowd. Monsignor Charles Scicluna hinted different diocese have different approaches, victim survivors in the U.S. do not believe the church should handle abuse allegations. Today an admission of failure in that effort.
“Grave errors of judgement were made and failures of leadership occurred. All this has seriously undermined your credibility and effectiveness. I appreciates the efforts you have been made to remedy past mistakes and to guarantee that they do not happen again,” Monsignor Charles Scicluna said.
While bishops heard testimony from victim survivors in private to protect their identities, everything else from the summit was streamed.
“This is the first time it was streaming with all the talks translated into different languages. This is part of the holy fathers effort to make sure we are transparent,” said Cardinal Cupich.
Chicago’s Cardinal Cupich sat right next to the Holy Father, as the main planner of this event.