Bishops from around the world ended their three-day sex abuse summit with a penitential mass, praying for forgiveness of crimes committed — and covered up — for years.
After three days and dozens of proposals for change in what Pope Francis calls a concrete plan, victims say only mandatory reporting is acceptable.
Pennsylvania State Representative Mark Rozzi, who was sexually abused by a priest as a child, says through his trauma he is devoted to changing the church he still loves.
“They truly aren’t meaning what they are saying, and if they did they would stand behind us and Pope Francis would tell his bishops to stand down, stop blocking victims from going into a civil court of law and receiving not only justice but the truth about the how and why,” Rozzi said.
Protestors from the US, India, Africa, Canada and the Phillippines kept a close eye on the Vatican this week.
Calling for zero tolerance for abuse and cover-ups, survivors supported each other as they demonstrated at the Piazza del Poppolo. Other survivors echoed those sentiments. Standing before bishops at the meeting, a young woman left them speechless and driven to save others. In describing the priest who overpowered her with his strength she said she NEVER FORGETS.
“These thoughts are the worst wounds that the abuse, and the abuser, insinuates into your heart, more than the wounds that lacerate your body. I just wanted to die: I tried…” she said. “If you don`t listen to the narrative of victims, if you don`t meet victims, you will never understand why you need to get it right”
Urging church leaders to hear their pleas, but more importantly put words of apology into action, Cardinal Reinhard Marx offered a step-by-step guide Saturday. Establishing transparent procedural norms and rules for ecclesiastical processes is essential, he said.
They also acknowledged files that could have documented the terrible deeds and named those responsible were destroyed, or never even created.
The worldwide crisis taking center stage in Rome has often been considered an American problem. Intense discussion brought bishops to the realization that children have suffered globally. But there will be no specific rules mandated for handling sex abuse cases.
Cardinal Blasé Cupich said ultimately officials will have to write those rules themselves.
“There will be norms issued by Vatican City state that you can look at and see if we are in conformity with those, and then Bishops conference as well have to go back home and deal with the issue of how they`re going to hold each other accountable,” Cupich explained.
The chapter on sex abuse in the church is not closed with the summit, as bishops say only this phase is coming to an end. After a final mass with Pope Francis Sunday, the work to improve the church continues in their home countries.