2012-02-06 Vatican RadioRepresentatives of 100 bishops’ conferences and 30 religious orders meet in Rome this week to launch a global initiative aimed at improving efforts to address the clerical sex abuse crisis.
The initiative is to be presented at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University during the course of a four day conference entitled ‘Towards Healing and Renewal’, supported by the Vatican Secretariat of State and Curial offices.
Philippa Hitchen went along to the press conference on Friday evening to find out more…..
After almost two years of preparation, this closed door conference describes itself as a symposium for Catholic bishops and religious superiors on how to deal with the devastating effects of sex abuse. It’s the first time that representatives of 100 bishops conferences, plus over 30 religious congregations have come together to hear first hand from victims and to try and promote a consistent response of the church to this ‘open wound’ as it’s often called.
All participants have been urged to meet with victims in their own countries and listen to their stories to have a clear understanding of what healing and renewal might been to survivors who in many cases lived for decades without any recognition of the abuses they suffered.
One Irish survivor, Marie Collins will address the participants about her own need to hear not just the abuser priests ask forgiveness – something she has already grated to her own abuser – but to hear church leaders – priests, bishops and cardinals, own up to their own roles in prolonging the suffering by putting the reputation of the church above the needs of the children in their care.
A central moment of the conference will come on Tuesday evening as seven different groups of people within the church acknowledge their responsibilities and ask forgiveness from the victims.
Another key moment will be the launch towards the end of the meeting of an E-learning centre, based in Munich, which will try to bring together the experiences and best practises from different countries in dealing with abuse, making it available to churches in countries around the world.
There will be a message from Pope Benedict to the conference and the papal spokesman Fr Federico Lombardi told journalists he’s encouraged that this meeting does mark a broadening of horizons – especially to those countries and cultures which have yet to face up to this problem – and that it will mark a very concrete step forward by the whole church.