Pope offers 21 proposals to fight child sex abuse
VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis opened a landmark sex abuse prevention summit Thursday by offering senior Catholic leaders 21 proposals to punish predators and keep children safe, warning that the faithful are demanding concrete action and not just words.
The tone for the high stakes, four-day summit was set at the start, with victims from five continents — Europe, Africa, Asia, South America and North America — telling the bishops of the trauma of their abuse and the additional pain the church’s indifference caused them.
“Listen to the cry of the young, who want justice,” Francis told the gathering of 190 leaders of bishops conferences and religious orders.
“The holy people of God are watching and expect not just simple and obvious condemnations, but efficient and concrete measures to be established.”
More than 30 years after the scandal first erupted in Ireland and Australia, and 20 years after it hit the U.S., bishops and Catholic officials in many parts of Europe, Latin America, Africa and Asia still either deny that clergy sex abuse exists in their regions or play down the problem.
Francis, the first Latin American pope, called the summit after he himself botched a well-known sex abuse cover-up case in Chile last year and the scandal reignited in the U.S.
With his own papacy and the Catholic hierarchy at large facing a credibility crisis, Francis has now vowed to chart a new course and is bringing the rest of the church leadership along with him.