Bishops’ meeting in Rome aims to ‘end sex abuse cover-ups’
Pope Francis ordered assembly to raise awareness of issue, set a protocol for handling allegations, listen to survivors’ stories
Ensuring there are no more cover-ups of child sex abuse is one of the chief goals of the Feb. 21–24 meeting of bishops in Rome, said Andrea Tornielli, editorial director for the Vatican Dicastery for Communication.
Pope Francis ordered the unprecedented gathering last year in response to escalating cases and allegations of sex abuse of minors and Church members from Europe to the United States, Latin America, and Africa.
Tornielli said the convention would focus on what must be done regarding how such claims are handled and the appropriate safeguards enforced.
The bishops will discuss “what steps must be taken to protect the victims, with respect for the truth and the people involved, in order to ensure that no more cases are stonewalled or covered up,” Catholic News Service reported, quoting excerpts from his editorial.
Tornielli said many “significant and concrete steps” have been taken over the last 16 years but much work remains to be done to eliminate this stain on the Church’s reputation despite the improvements made.
“But norms, laws, codes, and procedures that are increasingly perfected and precise are not enough; they can never be enough if the mentality and the hearts of those who are called to apply them do not change,” he wrote.
The landmark meeting will “increase everyone’s awareness of the seriousness of the crisis” and ensure “everyone taking part in it can return to their own country being absolutely clear about what must — and must not — be done with regard to addressing these cases,” it continued.
The editorial ran in Vatican News and on page one of L’Osservatore Romano.
He said it was crucial that senior prelates listen to the victims’ stories in person.
Both Pope Benedict XVI and Francis have met with victims all over the world in the last decade and “wept with them, sharing their suffering,” Tornielli wrote.