27 February 2019
Abuse Summit leaves many at risk
The Abuse Summit (21-24 Feb 2019) was a disappointment and a missed opportunity.
For over 3 decades clerical child sex abuse scandals have been prominent in several countries (Austria, Germany, USA, Ireland, Australia, Canada, Chile) who have introduced safeguarding measures. These measures have been refined through experience and audits. More recently clerical child sex abuse scandals have surfaced in many other countries (France, Spain, India, etc) and continue to be reported where previously such abuse was kept secret.
The Abuse Summit was therefore an opportunity to share the knowledge and expertise that has been built up so that children in Delhi or Dar es Salaam are as safe as children in Dallas or Dublin. But this did not happen. There was an absence of concrete actions to safeguard children:
- No universal safeguarding measures were adopted
- No definition of “Zero Tolerance” which Pope Francis had spoken of
- No definition of what constitutes sexual abuse of a minor
- No process of accountability for bishops was agreed
There were some positive outcomes with the powerful survivors statements and the protests outside the meeting. The Summit highlighted for the assembled bishops and for the world the many failures and false denials by our Church authorities over the past 3 decades regarding the abuse scandal.
The hierarchy’s continuing failure to take any substantive action will lead to further erosion of affiliation with the Church and more undermining of its moral authority.
The clear message remains that any concerns about clerical child abuse should be reported to the civil authorities and not to the church authorities.
We Are Church International (WAC-I) founded in Rome in 1996, is a global coalition of national church reform groups. It is committed to the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church based on the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the theological spirit developed from it.
Colm Holmes Marianne Duddy-Burke, USA,
Chair, We Are Church International Media, We Are Church International
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