For the very first time Catholic Bishops are meeting in Rome to discuss the sexual abuse of children within the Catholic faith. The Vatican has said that it wants “four days of reflection and discussion with survivors.”
The conference has been opened by Pope Francis and in his opening speech he said:
“Catholic Church would listen to the cry of the little ones seeking justice”.
Present at the conference are the heads of the National Catholic Bishops, Vatican Officials and experts and heads of male and female religious orders. Bishops were encouraged to meet with the survivors of sexual abuse in their countries ahead of the conference. During the conference survivors will give testimonies of the abuse they had suffered and it is expected that marches will be organised by advocacy groups to take place outside the Vatican.
Some survivors groups have criticised the conference referring to it as a “publicity stunt”, other feel that the Catholic Church should have assisted in the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse with their investigation of sexual abuse at Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s School in Ealing.
The aim of the conference is to address “assumptions, attitudes and practices which have allowed a culture of abuse to flourish.” The Pope in 2013 when he was elected called for “decisive action” and his critics say that he had not done enough to call bishops who have allegedly covered up abuse into account.”
In December 2018, Pope Francis vowed that the Church would “never again cover up sexual abuse and would bring perpetrators to justice.”
Opening the conference Pope Francis stated that:
“victims expected concrete and efficient measures to address the abuse. The evil of sexual abuse of children by Priests must be transformed into the purification of the Church.”
It is hoped that those present at the summit will discuss protocol for responding to allegations of sexual abuse and identify and implement practices to safeguard children and bring justice to victims.
If you have been affected by anything in this article and would like to speak to one of our specialist abuse lawyers in confidence, please do not hesitate to contact us. We can advise you on the available options for pursuing a civil damages claim. Jordans successfully represent and secure compensation for numerous victims of abuse and are experts in overcoming the particular challenges that arise in these sensitive cases. Our abuse team can be contacted on 0800 9555 094.