Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Pope Francis waves to journalists as he arrives for a press conference he held aboard the papal flight on his way back to Rome at the end of a three day trip to the Midle East, Monday, May 26, 2014 (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini, Pool) )
Advocate skeptical about meeting between pope, sex-abuse victims
First Published May 27 2014 07:44 pm • Last Updated May 27 2014 08:54 pm

Boston • A Massachusetts man who took part in a private meeting six years ago between Pope Benedict XVI and victims of sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests said Tuesday that he hopes another summit planned soon with Benedict’s successor will be more productive.

The forthcoming meeting at the Vatican between Pope Francis and a half-dozen victims, announced Monday, is being organized by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston. It will mark the first such encounter for Francis, who has won early praise for his concern for the poor but has gotten mixed reviews for his response to church abuse.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

The pope said the meeting would take place early next month. But the Archdiocese of Boston said in a statement that the details of the meeting haven’t been finalized and that the meeting was expected to take place "in the coming months."

Bernie McDaid, of Peabody, Massachusetts, founder of the advocacy group Survivors Voice, said he expected the meeting to be a "dog-and-pony show."

"I believe it’s always going to be church first, children second," said McDaid, who has not been invited to the meeting with Francis. McDaid and four other sex abuse victims met with Benedict for about 25 minutes at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C., in 2008. "It was weird," he said. "He looked down at the floor like he was nervous. He wouldn’t engage. ... It was all about praying and blessing us. Like he was going to heal us or something. I didn’t come for that. I don’t need to be blessed. They need to be, if anything."

Like McDaid, others say they’re skeptical the gathering will lead to changes they’ve long sought. Among them: holding bishops and other church leaders accountable for concealing the sex crimes of priests under their oversight.

In his announcement Monday, Francis revealed that three bishops are under investigation by the Vatican for abuse-related reasons, though it wasn’t clear whether they were accused of committing abuse or covering it up.

"On this issue we must go forward, forward," Francis said. "Zero tolerance."

He has spoken less firmly in the past. After a U.N. report blasting the Vatican for its record on sex abuse, Francis said this year that "no one has done more" to combat exploitation of children that the church and Benedict.

He went to note that most abuse happens in "family and neighborhood environments" and said the church has moved with "transparency and responsibility."


story continues below
story continues below

Advocacy groups and attorneys for abuse victims have largely dismissed the forthcoming meeting.

Barbara Blaine, the head of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said the pope already has all the information he needs to remove priests who abuse minors and bishops who cover it up.

The planned meeting looks like "a public relations ploy," she said.

Victims will be looking to see strong action, said Colm O’Gorman, founder of the Dublin-based One in Four advocacy group.

"For 20 years, I’ve said to Vatican, you are not responsible for an individual priest, but you are responsible for a system that covered it up and allowed it to continue," he said.

———

Contributing to this report were Associated Press writers Greg Katz in London, Nicole Winfield in Rome and Gillian Flaccus in Orange County, California.



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.