Pope Francis summons bishops to discuss sexual abuse after global pressure builds
On Wednesday, Pope Francis summoned bishops to the Vatican City for an emergency meeting to address the worldwide clerical sexual abuse and coverups of the Catholic Church. The meeting comes on the heels of the bombshell Philadelphia investigation uncovering more than 300 clergy members accused by about 1,000 victims.
The Roman Catholic Church has an extensive history of orchestrated child sexual abuse, child pornography, and serious attempts to block legal accountability for clergy abuse.
Mark Vincent Healy, the first male survivor of Irish clergy sexual abuse to meet with Pope Francis, told CNN, “Pope Francis has had since March 2013, when he was elected, time to deal with the scandal of clergy child sexual abuse.”
He continued, “From around the world inquiries have reported their findings and received commentary in countless reports, audits, films, documentaries, media flashes, and bursts. All the while the Vatican moves at a glacial pace to ‘address’ the scandal with words of apology and acknowledgment of the harm done.”
Colm O’Gorman, a survivor of clergy abuse and the current director of Amnesty International Ireland, echoed these sentiments to CNN: ” It’s terribly simple. Catholic clergy have raped, sexually assaulted and otherwise abused hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people across the world. The Catholic Church, at a global level, knew about these crimes, has known about them for millennia. But its approach has always been to keep those crimes secret.”
The New York Times reports that the pope’s summoning of bishops came after a study by the German church on clerical sexual abuse was leaked.
A group representing the victims of the church in Germany are now demanding an independent investigation take place. In a statement Thursday, they said, “We do not have the names of the perpetrators. No responsible bishops are identified, those who have constructed and perfected this system of sexual assault and its cover-up for decades. Now it is clear: an organization of perpetrators and conspirators cannot reform itself.”
With rampant clerical sexual abuse uncovered in the United States, Ireland, Germany, the Philippines, Chile, Austria and more, the Vatican is struggling to reckon with its history and the pope’s summons may signal international approach.
The meeting is set to take place in February. Over 100 leading bishops from around the world will take part.
Peter Isely, a co-founder of the group Ending Clerical Abuse, said, “They better deliver in February.”