The Vatican’s problematic process to address clergy sex abuse cases, explained

Vatican’s problematic abuse process

Title: The Vatican’s problematic process to address clergy sex abuse cases, explained

Author: Nicole Winfield

Publisher: Associated Press

Date: 20Feb2024

VATICAN CITY (AP) — One afternoon in midDecember, Pope Francis had a meeting that wasn’t on his official agenda or otherwise recorded, that underscored the utter dysfunction of the Catholic Church’s response to the global clergy sex abuse scandal.

In the main reception room of the Vatican hotel where he lives, Francis met for more than an hour with a Spaniard who as a young seminarian was molested by his spiritual director. The former seminarian was desperate.

He had lodged a complaint with the Toledo, Spain Archdiocese in 2009, and visited Vatican offices multiple times to deposit damning documents and demand action be taken against his abuser and the bishops who allegedly covered for him. But for 15 years, he had received no justice from the church.

While Francis decision to hear his story was laudable and pastorally sensitive, it was also evidence that the church’s inhouse system to deal with abuse isnt working — from the laws available to punish abusers to its policies for helping survivors. For every victim who has enough wellconnected friends at the Vatican who can arrange a papal audience, countless others will never feel that the church cares for them or will provide them justice.

Five years ago this week, Francis convened an unprecedented summit of bishops from around the world to impress on them that clergy abuse was a global problem and they needed to address it. Over four days, these bishops heard harrowing tales of trauma from victims, learned how to investigate and sanction pedophile priests, and were warned that they too would face punishment if they continued to cover for abusers.

Yet five years later, despite new church laws to hold bishops accountable and promises to do better, the Catholic Church’s inhouse legal system and pastoral response to victims has proven still incapable of dealing with the problem.

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