Pope Francis Plans to Meet With Sex Abuse Victims at Vatican Next Month
On Monday, Pope Francis announced that he would meet with some of the victims that were sexually abused by clergy of the Catholic Church at the Vatican next month.
Francis' decision to meet the victims comes after the United Nations Committee Against Torture criticized the Holy See for not going far enough to punish those responsible and called on the Vatican to exercise its power over the all the churches globally.
The pope also told reporters, after returning from his three day trip to the Middle East, that the Vatican is investigating three bishops for abuse-related reasons, but he did explain if they are being accused of committing abuse, Fox News reported.
"There are no privileges," said Francis after getting back to Rome. "On this issue we must go forward, forward. Zero tolerance."
The office of Cardinal Sean O'Malley, an archbishop from Boston who is organizing the meeting, said in a statement that Francis will meet with a half-dozen victims. The date and other details have not yet been finalized; the church has only said it will happen "in the coming months." During the meeting, Francis will also hold a Mass at the Vatican hotel, according to the statement.
Besides the U.N., victims and victims groups such as Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests have come out criticizing the Pope for not exercising his authority to make positive changes on this topic much like he has in church finance and governance, according to Fox.
SNAP Executive Director David Clohessy told The Associated Press that the meeting is "just utterly, utterly meaningless."
"The simple truth is this is another gesture, another public relations coup, another nice bit of symbolism that will leave no child better off and bring no real reform to a continuing, scandal-ridden church hierarchy," Clohessy said.
However, attorney Mitchel Garabedian, a U.S. attorney who represents the clergy abuse victims, said he hopes the meeting will be "substantive and meaningful." He also said the meeting should help Francis understand the plight of the victims.
"Meeting directly with victims is the most powerful tool that the pope can use in understanding the ugliness and horror of clergy sexual abuse and why it must be stopped or prevented," Garabedian said.
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